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Full text of "A history of the town of Bushwick, Kings county, N.Y. and of the town, village and city of Williamsburgh, Kings county, N.Y"

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r J. <i.3 
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Kings County, N. Y. 







Reprinted from "The lUitstrated History of Kings County," edited by Dr. H. R. Stiles, and jntblished ly 

W. W. Munsell & Co. 









With the co-operation of J. M. Stearns, Esq., Brooklyn, E. D. 

ents. — Tlie territory embraced within the ancient 
town of Bushwick was purchased from its Indian 
proprietors, by the West India Company, in 
August, 1638 ; and its earliest settlement begun in 
1641-1650 by certain Swedes and Norwegians, or 
Normans as they were called, together with a few 

These persons, such as Bergen and Moll at the 
Wallabout, Carsiaexsen and JBorsin on the East river, 
Yolkertse at Greenpoint, and Jan the Swede on the 
site of the subsequent village of Bushwick, seem to 
have occupied and cultivated their bouweries, independ- 
ently of one another, and subject directly to the au- 
thority of the director and council at Manhattan, from 
whom they received their patents. It is probable, indeed, 
that they had originally strayed into these wilds with a 
sort of purpose of pre-empting the lands, trusting to 
secure a title when the opportunity should occur. Nat- 
urally they erected their lodges, or huts, near the small 
creeks flowing into the East river (or, rather, subject to 
its tides) ; since these afforded convenient landing-places 
for small boats, which were then the only means of com- 
munication with Manhattan Island. We have no evi- 
dence of any attempt to lay out a regular settlement, 
or to organize a town, until 1660, a period of over 
twenty years from the date of the first patent. 

In the consideration of Hans Hansen Bergen's patent 
at the Waaleboght, page 8, it will be remembered 
that we reached and somewhat overlapped the bound- 
ary line between the towns of Brooklyn and Bushwick, 
— a boundary line, which, according to the earliest 
patent of the town of Brooklyn, was identical with Ber- 
gen's northerly bounds. It might be designated on the 
map of the jjresent city of Brooklyn, by a line drawn 
from the East river, following the course of Division 
avenue, to about at its junction with Tenth street, and 
from that point extending in a somewhat south-easterly 
direction towards Newtown. 

Adjoining this laud of Bergen's on the north, was a 

triangular tract of land, which was granted by the 
West India Company, September 7, 1641, to Lambert 
HuTBERTSEN MoLL, a ship Carpenter, who had pur- 
chased it from one Cornells Jacobsen Stille, onthe 29th 
of the preceding month. It had, even then, a house 
upon it, and this Stille was probably one of those 
" squatters " to whom we have already referred. This 
patent embraced, by estimation, fifty acres, though it 
was subsequently found to be nearer sixty. It extended 
along the East river, from the old Brooklyn line to a 
little north of the present Broadway, and from the East 
river front to near Tenth street. The confirmatory 
patent, granted by Gov. NicoUs, in 1667, clearly identi- 
fies it as including what has been more recently known as 
the Peter Miller Farm, the Berry Farm, and Boerum^s 
Woods. Moll seems to have removed to Esopus, about 
1663, and the land became the property of Jacobus 
Kip, of Kipsburg, in the City of New York, where he 
was a prominent citizen and oflicial ; and, though it 
was confirmed to him by Gov. Nicolls, in 1667, it does 
not ajjpear that he ever resided on this farm, or even in 
Bushwick, nor that he paid taxes here. During his 
ownership, a block-house was erected, as a resort for 
the scattered settlers in case of hostility from the 
Indians, upon the high point of land which jutted into 
the river about the foot of South Fourth street, 
and which was known in the olden time as the 
" Keike " or " Lookout." The name came to be ap- 
plied to the high land overlooking the whole shore 
through the present Fourth street, and southward to 
the Boerum land, and so down to the Wallabout Bay. 
In 1693, Kip's executors sold the farm to James (some- 
times called Jacobus) Bobin, a resident of Long Island, 
who was in possession until his death about 1741. It 
is afterwards found, 1761, in the possession of one 
Abraham Kershow (Carshow, Cershaw, or Corson) who 
devised it to his sons Jacob and Martin, who were in 
possession as late as 1786, when they divided the farm, 
Jacob taking the northerly, and Martin the southerly 
half. Jacob Kershow's portion passed, by deed, to one 


Peter Miller, in 1790, who devised it to his sons, David 
P. Miller and John P. Miller, and died in 1816. David 
P. Miller sold his, the northerly, portion, to Daniel S. 
Griswold, and it partly passed to one John Henry, who 
had it surveyed into city lots. John P. Miller sold his, 
the southerly part, in 1823, to Abraham Meserole, by 
whom it was subsequently surveyed into building lots. 
Martin Kershow's portion, by sale under a Chancery 
decree, in 1820, passed to Jacob Berry, who surveyed 
and mapped it into building lots, his map bearing the 
date of 1828; 

That portion of the Moll Patent, subsequently known 
as Boeruni's Woods, passed to Jacob Bloom, the owner 
of what became the Abraham Boerum farm in the pres- 
ent Nineteenth Ward. This land was owned by Philip 
Harmon, and came, at length, to one John Moore, And 
one Gradon, and was, probably, the latest of the Wil- 
liamsburgh farm lands to be surveyed into city lots. 
The seven acres purchased by John Skillman, in 1807, 
was the subject of lively land-jobbing operations in 
1836. Horace Greeley purchased lots there ; and con- 
ceived them to be a mine of wealth ; but, on a financial 
revulsion, was glad to deed them to the holder of his 
mortgages. So of Paul J. Fish and others, joint and 
several speculators there. 

The next plantation to Moll's, on the north, was that 
ascribed by (perhaps erroneously — since it is yet 
doubtful whether " Mareckawick," which he gives as 
the determining point of identification, can be definitely 
located) to Moll's son, Rtbe Lambertsen (Moll), by 
patent of March 23, 1646. He removed to the Dela- 
ware River (probably about 1657); and, in 1667, it was 
conveyed to David Jochems, by whom, in 1673, it was 
sold to one Van Pelt. 

This farm of 107 acres, extendmg along the East 
river from near the present Broadway to North First 
street, with its easterly line near the present Seventh 
street — is first absolutely found in the possession of 
one Jean Meserol (Meserole, or Meserol), a native 
of Picardy, in France, who came to this country in 
April, 1663, together with his "wife and sucking 
child," in the ship Spotted Cow. No deed or patent 
has ever been discovered, which will determine the 
date or the manner of Meserole's entrance upon the 
occupancy of this estate. It was probably by virtue of 
what we understand as " squatter sovereignty." He 
built his house upon the " Keikout " bluff, before al- 
luded to ; and this structure was probably the same 
which formed the westerly wing of the " Old Miller 
Homestead," which, after surviving for over 200 years, 
was demolished about twenty years ago. This house is 
said to have been a favorite boarding-place of the 
famous Captain Kidd, who found it a convenient re- 
treat, and yet accessible to New York, whenever he 
came ashore between his piratical trips. Tradition also 
has it that, many years before, while engaged in his 
nefarious voyages, he had made New York his domestic 

port ; and, that, amid the woods of Bushwick, he had 
marked the grave of one whom he had loved — the 
daughter of a prominent settler — and whom he had 
hoped to make his wife. But she died, during one of 
his absences ; and, though he afterwards married, yet 
he often sought, as opportunity offered, the grave of 
his lost love. Whether this, or the facilities of secrecy 
combined with nearness to the great port across the 
river, drew him so frequently to the Meserole home- 
stead, on the Keikout, can only now be a matter of 

To return, however, to the Keikout Farm, no deed 
or patent has ever been discovered which determines 
the manner or time of Meserole's entrance upon its oc- 
cupancy. He died in 1695 ; and devised his entire es- 
tate to his widow Jonica. He left a son, Jan Meserole, 
Junior, who was already married and domiciled at the 
old homestead, having two sons, John and Cornelius, 
and several daughters. He entered into the domestic 
interests of the old homestead, after his father's death, 
in a spirit of filial affection and kindness ; and his 
mother declined to prove her husband's will, as against 
her son, thinking that as he was her heir at law, as well 
as heir of her late husband, he would take the estate in 
any event. She afterwards married a second husband 
by the name of Dennison, but this did not disturb the 
kindly relations between herself and her first-born son. 
Nor was the second husband aware of the existence of 
old Jan Meserol's will, by which he would properly 
have been established by courtesy in the occupancy of 
the estate. The old will had been cast aside, by both 
mother and son, with seeming confidence that it pos- 
sessed no bearing upon the family interests ; and Jan 
Meserol, Jr., came at last to consider himself in full 
possession, with a full title to the estate. After seven- 
teen years, he made his will, in 1710 (proved 1712), de- 
vising the Kuykout farm to his two sons, John and Cor- 
nelius ; and giving other lands to his wife, and making 
other provisions for his daughters. His mother survived 
him but five days ; and his heirs having proved his will, 
John and Cornelius undertook the management of the 
Keikout farm, as tenants in common, working together 
in mutual harmony and good will, and so continued re- 
specting what they admitted to be each other's rights 
for nearly four years. But, one day, John Meserol, the 
3rd, in looking over some papers formerly belonging to 
his grandmother Jonica, happened to find his grand- 
father's unproved will. On submitting the document 
to competent legal advice, he found that, under the 
English law of primogeniture then existing in the colony, 
he could, by producing proofs of his grandfather's will, 
and making them refer back to the grandfather's death, 
claim the estate as sole heir-at-law of his grandmother 
Jonica. It was necessary to prove the will of the 
grandfather, who had now been dead 21 years, and the 
signatures of the witnesses, but one of whom survived. 
To make the proof more effectual, and to perpetuate 


the testimony, a bill was filed in Chancery, in which 
John Meserol was complainant, and Cornelius Meserol, 
Christopher Rugsby, and the Rector, and inhabitants of 
the city of New York, in communion with the church 
of England, as by law established, were defendants. 
At the hearing, the proofs of the will were duly taken on 
interrogatories addressed to several persons produced as 
witnesses, and the same was fully established as a valid 
will before Robert Hunter, Governor and acting Chan- 
cellor of the Province of New York. The enrollment 
of the decree was fully certified by Rip Van Dam, one 
of the masters in chancery, and is of record in the files 
of the court of Chancery at Albany as completed on the 
17th day of July, 1717. 

Cornelius Meserol seems to have surrendered his claim 
to the farm at discretion, as he did not appear on the 
hearing and is said to have emigrated to New Jersey 
and to have been thereafter forgotten by his kindi ed. 

John Meserol the third took possession of the entire 
farm, and lived at the Kuykout up to the time of his 
death in 1756. He left five sons, Abraham, Isaac, 
Jacob, Peter and John, and as many daughters, all of 
whom appear to have respectably married, to-wit : 
Janetta Colyer, Maritta Fardon, Sarah Skillman, Cat- 
rina Miller, and Maria Devoe, all of whom will be rec- 
ognized as ancestors in the leading families of the late 
town of Bushwick. 

But the will of this third John Meserol, as proved in 
1756, intimates a remembrance of the old suit in chan- 
cery, by which the testator obtained the farm; inclosing 
with these significant words : " Any of my children 
making a law-suit about my estate shall forfeit all claim 
to any share therein, and be entirely cut off by my 
executors, &c." 

So ended the third generation of the Meserols at the 
Kuykout, and indeed the proprietorship of the name in 
that estate ; although a small part of it, through a de- 
scendant from Catrina Miller, one of the daughters, 
came to the family of Abraham Mesei'ole. Meserole's 
heirs subsequently disposed of the Kuykout estate 
(107 acres) as follows : Isaac Meserole sold to Francis 
Titus a parcel on the East River, on both sides of the 
present Grand street, from near South First to near 
North First street, and extending east far enough to 
make 12 acres. Thomas Skillman, the husband of Sa- 
rah Meserole, bought the share next south of Isaac's, 
above-mentioned, and extending from near South First 
to South Third street, as now laid out, and from the 
River to near Sixth street. This land was sold to 
Charles Titus, in 1785, and was by him devised to his 
son Charles, in 1802. He sold to Justus Thompson, 
and he sold about six acres at the river front to Noah 
Waterbury. The balance passed, under foreclosure, to 
Gen. Jeremiah Johnson, who shortly after sold it to 
Garret and Grover C. Furman. By them it was mapped 
into city lots. 

Christopher Rugsliy was tenant of the Meseroles in 

1717, and lived on the southern half of the Keikout 
farm, his house being between James Bobin's, at the 
foot of South Tenth, and the Meserole homestead at the 
foot of South Fourth Street. This land is believed to 
be identical with the sixteen or seventeen acres to which 
one Abraham Schenck acquired title before 1761, prob- 
ably from Meserole in his lifetime. Schenck conveyed 
this land to Andries Conselyea, by deed, August 15, 
1761 ; by whom it was devised to his sons, Andrew and 
John Conselyea, the latter being the father of the late 
Andrew J. Conselyea. In a mutual partition of the 
farm, John took that part adjoining the present Broad- 
way and on both sides of South Sixth to a little east of 
Third Street. He conveyed it, 1 82 1, to David Dunham, 
who died seized of it. It was subsequently partitioned 
and surveyed into city lots, and a map filed. Of the 
other portion Andrew Conselyea died seized ; and, af- 
ter various judicial proceedings by his heirs, it was 
mapped into city lots and sold on the market. 

The balance of the Keikout farm was purchased by 
David Molenaer [alias Miller) the husband of Catrina 
Meserole. By his will (1779, proved 1789) he devised 
the north part of his farm to his son David ; and the 
south part to his son William. William Miller subse- 
quently sold his share to Frederick Devoe, who had it 
surveyed into city lots, afterwards dying and leaving 
sons, the late John and William L. Devoe, who, with 
their mother, sold most of this land in their life time. 
David Miller died in 1815, in possession of the land de- 
vised to him by his father, devising the life use thereof 
to his wife Maria, who survived him until her age ex- 
ceeded a hundred years. He then devised most of this 
farm to his son David, who, though he died (1823) com- 
paratively young, had attained distinction as a captain 
in the War of 1812. He left no children, and his sis- 
ter, Maria, wife of Abraham Meserole, and his brother, 


John Miller, succeeded to his inheritance. His widow 
lost her dower, as her husband had only an estate in 
expectancy, after the death of his mother. John Miller 
and Abraham Meserole (the latter in the interest of his 
wife Maria) divided the land between them, and map- 
ped out their shares into city lots. The site of the old 


homestead, after the old lady's death, was sold for 
building lots — the venerable house demolished — the 
earth dug down some sixty feet, and the " Old Keik- 
out " thenceforth was only " a thing of the past." 

There remained, however, a road or bridle-path, 
known as the " Keikout-road," which seems to have 
dated from the very beginning of the settlement. It 
ran from the side of the village laid out around the 
old Bushwick Church, and down near the present 
North Second street to Tenth, near Union avenue. 
Then, turning southerly, and with various zigzags, 
now touching the present Ninth street, and again, fur- 
ther south, intersecting Tenth street, diagonally, it 
came to the present Broadway near Ninth street, at 
the old Brooklyn line. It again turned west, along or 
near said line, about a rod in width, to the shore of the 
East River. Then, turning northerly along the East 
River, it extended to Bushwick Creek, then "Norman's 
Kill. It was, doubtless, a Pent-road, with gates, or 
bars, separating the different farms through which it 

Next came the patents comprising the land lying be- 
tween the northerly line of the Meserole farm and 
Bushwick creek ; and between the East River and a 
line drawn about equidistant between Fifth and Sixth 
streets, from the junction of that branch of the creek, 
which now rises near Ninth and Grand streets, to the 
north-westerly corner of the Meserole patent. These 
patents, three in number, belonged respectively to Claes 
Carstexsen, sometimes termed " Claes the Norman," to 
George Baxter, the English secretary to the Dutch 
council, and to David Andrus, or Andriese. 

Carstenseii's patent, wliicli was granted to him by Di- 
rector Kieft, September 5th, 1645, included 29 morgens, 
553 rods. 

Saxter''s patent, of twenty-five morgens, was granted 
July 6, 164.3. 

Of Andrus's patent no record has been formed. 

It is not probable that any of these individuals ever 
occupied their farms. Baxter became a patentee for 
Gravesend in 1645, was subsequently much employed 
in public affairs ; and finally, on account of his political 
rascalities, was obliged, in 1656, to leave the country. 
Of Andriese nothing whatever is known; and Carsten- 
sen in some way became possessed of their shares of 
this property. This same tract, comprising some 130 
acres, was, in 1647, granted by the governor and coun- 
cil to Jan Forbus, and in 1660 transferred to Pieter 
Jans de Norman, whose widow afterward married 
Joost Cockuyt. Paul us Richards bought the farm in 
1664,. and the lands do not appear in the records again 
for forty years. Then they are found in the hands of 
Tennis Mauritz Covert, of Monmouth, N. J., a son of 
Mauritz Covert, whose widow Antie Fonteyn married 
Francis Titus, of Bushwick. By him it was conveyed 
to Titus, m 1719. Francis Titus, a son of Capt. Titus 
Syrachs de Vries, part owner of a grist-mill at New 

Utrecht, in 1660, married a second wife, and died 
about 1760, leaving five sons and five daughters. He 
resided on what was known as tlie Col. Francis Titus 
farm, in Williamsburgh, consisting of 58 acres of up- 
land and 4 of meadow, to which he added 40 adjoining 
on the easterly side, by purchase from Wm. Latin; and 
about 12 acres of the original Keikout farm, near the 
present Grand street ferry, bought of Isaac Meserole. 
He also bought from Joseph Skillman the northerly 
half (about 25 acres) of the Jacob Boerum farm, in the 
16th ward of the present city, and had considerable 
other property east of the present Bushwick avenue, 
and in the New Bushwick land. This property, by his 
will (proved 1764), was devised to his sons, the eldest 
of whom, Francis, occupied the homestead farm, and 
also acquired some 18 acres, by purchase of David 
Wortman, located between the present Sixth and Ninth 
streets, and mostly between Grand and Nortli First 
streets. He died in 1801, leaving the homestead to his 
son, Col. Francis Titus, who erected a house on First, 
near North Sixth, now torn down. 

East of the farms of Meserole and Carstensen, lay 
that of Jan de Swede, or John the Swede. It proba- 
bly comprised most, if not all, of the land bounded 
south by the farms of Bergen and Moll ; on the west by 
those of Meserole and Carstensen ; and on the east by 
the ancient road known as the Swede's Fly. This road 
marked the easterly bounds of Jan de Swede's meadow, 
which IS mentioned as one of tlie westerly boundaries 
of the township of Bushwick, in its patent of 1687; and 
was itself the easterly boundary of the first chartered 
village of Williamsburgh, in 1827. John the Swede's 
meadow, therefore, was between Eleventh and Twelfth 
streets ; and possibly, he was, also, the original propri- 
etor of the back lands owned by Wortmans. He seems 
to be first mentioned in Baxter's patent, in 1643, and 
was probably one of the " squatter sovereigns " whose 
settlement preceded grants, briefs or patents. It is to 
be noted that a branch of Norman's Kill, of sufficient 
depth to float small boats, in early times extended to, 
or a little south, of the present Grand street, near Ninth 
street; and, for the reasons stated, the inference is that 
his house was located near the head of navigation on 
this branch creek. The fact that a fresh water, clay- 
basin pond, since known as part of the commons, near 
North First and Ninth streets, favors this presumption ; 
and Stiles' suggestion that his farm extended east to 
embrace the subsequently incorporated Bushwick vil- 
lage, is contradicted by the Swede's Fly or Kuykout 
road, being referred to as the eastern boundary of his 
farm, by the charter of the town of Bushwick. In 
many of the patents or ground briefs, the tenure or 
occupation of prior settlers is recited; and we may 
infer that resident patentees were on the land prior to 
the date of their patents, or bought out others, who 
were in possession. 

The extensive tract between Jan the Swede's land 


and Bushwick avenue, comprising land, which subse- 
quently contained nearly one-third of the city of Wil- 
liamsburgh, was owned, a little more than a century 
ago, by one Daniel Bordet. It is designated on 
riodern maps as lands of John Devoe, William P. 
Powers, Abraham Meserole, James Scholes, Abraham 
Remsen, Andrew Conselyea, McKibbin and Nichols, 
and others. 

A tract of land was, in the year 1667, patented by 
Governor Nicolls to one Humphrey Clay, then of the 
city of New York. 

This tract, lying on both sides of what is now Meeker 
avenue,adjoining Newtown creek,had just been patented 
to Adam Moll, in August, 1646; by him transported to 
William Goulding; and by him transferred to C'aude 
Berbine and Anthony Jeroe, of Maspeth Kill. These 
parties, on the 7th of January, 165.3, conveyed the pro- 
perty, " with the houseing thereupon," i.o Jacob Steen- 
dam. And " whereas the said Jacob Steendam," says 
the old patent to Clay, " hath been absent and gone 
out of this country, for the space of eight years, during 
which time the houseing, which was upon the said land 
is wholly come to ruin, and the land hath been neglected 
and unmanured, without any care taken thereof, by the 
said Jacob Steendam, or any that hath lawful power 
from him, contrary to the laws established in such 
cases, within this government," the said land was de- 
clared to be forfeited. And therefore, " to the inl ent 
that no plantation within this government should lie 
waste and unmanured, and that a house, or houses, may 
be built upon the old foundations, as also, for divers 
other good causes and considerations," the same was 
fully granted to Humphrey Clay. Clay probably came 
to New York from New London, in the colony of Con- 
necticut, where he had been an inn-keeper, perhaps 
from as early a date as 1655. In 1664, he was fined 
40s. and costs, for keeping an inmate contrary to law, 
and his wife Katherine was " presented for selling 
liquors at her house, selling lead to the Indians, profa- 
nation of the Sabbath, card-playing and entertaining 
strange men." Upon trial before the court of assist- 
ants, Mr. Clay and wife were convicted of keeping a 
disorderly house, and fined £40, or to leave the colony 
within six months, in which case half the fine was to 
be remitted. They chose the latter course and removed 
to New York; and thence, in 1667, to Bushwick. 

Abraham Ryckex, or de Rycke, the progenitor of 
the present Rycker families of New York, New Jersey 
and elsewhere, received from Director Kieft, in 1638, 
an allotment of land which has been located by Thomp- 
son in Gowanus, and by Riker in the Wallabout of 
Brooklyn. A closer examination of the original patent 
shows that it was located in the territory then recently 
purchased from the Indians by the West India Com- 
pany, and which afterward formed the old town of 
Bushwick. Rycken's patent probably embraced the 
lands between Newtown Creek, Lombard street, Metro- 

politan avenue and the old road running from the junc- 
tion of Metropolitan and Bushwick avenues to Porter 
avenue, near Anthony street. This land of Rycken's 
in Bushwick, or a portion of it with an addition to the 
meadows as far as Luqtiier's mill, is afterwards found 
in possession of one Jochem Verscheur, who. in 1712, 
conveyed it to Cornelius, Johannes and David Van 
Catts, by whose family name it has since been known. 

Greenpoint. — The greater part of the present 1 7th 
ward of the City of Brooklyn was known, from its 
earliest settlement, as Greenpoint, being, in fact, a 
neck of land embraced between Maspeth kill,now New- 
town creek, and Norman's Kill, now Bushwick creek. 
It was originally granted, in 1645, to Dirck Volckert- 
SEN, surnamed the Norman, who was a ship-carpenter. 
He lived on the northerly side of Bushwick creek, near 
the East River, in an old stone house, which was de- 
molished some years since, and on the site, Messrs. 
Samuel Sneeden and Jabez Williams built large and 
fine dwellings. Volkertsen, in old documents, is fre- 
quently called Dirck the Norman ; and thus, from his 
lands and dwelbng in that vicinity, Bushwick creek 
derived its ancient name of Norman'' s kill. 

May 1st, 1670, Governor Lovelace granted a confir- 
matory patent to Daniel Jochems, who had become 
possessed of a part of this laud by marriage with the 
widow Jacob Hey, to whom, in 1653, Volckertsen had 
conveyed it. 

By inheritance and purchase. Captain Peter Praa, 
of Newtown, who had become the second husband of 
Maria Hey, daughter of Christina Cappoens by her first 
husband, subsequently became the owner of the land 
conveyed by the Volckertsen patent. Captain Praa, of 
Newtown, was the son of Peter Praa, a highly respecta- 
ble Huguenot exile from Dieppe, in France, who came to 
this country with his family in 1659, and died in Crij)- 
plebush, March 6, 1663. Captain Praa, who was born 
at Leyden, in 1655, during his parent's temporary stay 
at that place, was a man of much enterprise and public 
spirit. After his marriage he spent the greater portion 
of his life at Bushwick, where he commanded the 
militia, and was especially distinguished for his supe- 
rior skill in horsemanship. Captain Praa subsequently 
purchased the balance, in 1719, from Dirck, Philip and 
Nicholas Volckertsen, sons of the original patentee. 
He also acquired large tracts in various places, among 
which may be mentioned Dominies hook, in Newtown, 
purchased from the heirs of Anneke Jans, of Trinity 
Church notoriety. He lived in an old stone dwelling- 
house upon the farm, since of David Provoost, near 
the meadow on the east side of Greenpoint. This 
house and farm came into the possession of his 
daughter, Christina, wife of David Provoost, and was 
occupied by her during the summer months, she being 
a resident of the city of New York, until her death, 
about 1795. It was destroyed by fire in 1832 or '33, 
after which David Provoost, her great grandchild, and 


the father of Hon. Andrew J. Provoost, built the house 
now occupied by his son-in-law, J. W. Valentine, on 
its site. 

Capt. Peter Praa died in 1740, and, by will, divided 
his property to his children; Catharine; Maria, who 
married Wynaut Van Zandt, and died before her 
father, leaving two sons, Peter Praa and Johannes Van 
Zandt ; Elizabeth, who married Jan Meserole (and to 
whom was devised all the tract purchased from Dirck 
Volkertsen) ; Anna, who married 1, William Bennett; 
2d, Daniel Bordet, and received all the Dominies hook 
property in Newtown ; and Christina, who married 1, 
David Provoost; 2d, Rev. John Aronda, and who re- 
ceived property in the city of New York. 

Two of Jan Meserole's sons, Jacob and Abraham, 
after the sale of the Keikout farm, removed to Green- 
point, where they settled on land which their father 
had purchased from Peter Praa. Jacob devised his 
share, by will, dated July 18, 1782, to his wife, for life, 
with remainder in fee to his sons, Peter and John ; 
who, in 1791, made a division, Peter occupying the 
northerly half and John the southerly. Abraham, who 
died in 1801, was the father of John A. Meserole, who 
inherited the property on which he lived for many years, 
and died intestate, in 1833. One of his daughters, 
Mary, married Neziah Bliss, who resided upon this 
very property, to the time of his death, and in the old 
Meserole mansion, on the banks of the East River, 
which house has been recently enlarged and modernized. 
Thus by purchase, and through their mother, the 
greater part of the Praa estate came into possession of 
the Meserole family. 

That portion granted by Praa to his daughter, Anne- 
tie Bodet, descended to her son, William Bennet, who 
died in possession, in 1805. It was by him devised to 
his sons, Tunis and Richard; and, in 1813, was sold at 
auction under foreclosure of mortgage, and purchased 
by Ammon T. Griffing. After his death, in 1814, it 
remained in possession of his heirs, until 1834, when it 
passed to Gen. Jeremiah Johnson, who, in 1835, con- 
veyed it to Mr. Neziah Bliss, and he in 1835 and '42 
transferred it to Eliphalett Nott, President of Union 

Of the more modern history and progress of Green- 
point, the reader will be fully informed in a subsequent 

" There were," says Mr. Stearns in an article on this sub- 
jeet, " considerable tracts of land, to which neither patent 
nor possessory titles were acquired for many years after the 
settlement of the place. These lands were known as com- 
mons, and embraced several pieces of meadow on Newtown 
creek, and a space of land by Ninth street and North First 
and Second streets, in WUliamsburgh, said to have been left 
open for the convenience of watering the cattle of the neigh- 
borhood, as it embraced a pond of fn'sh water that emanated 
from springs. This common embraced between one and 
two acres of land, and is mentioned in old deeds before the 
year 1700. A legal controversy concerning the title to this 

common may be noticed hereafter. Besides, the meadow 
lands and the commons referred to, the town of Bushwick in 
the rights of all its several freeholders assumed to own the 
tract of land known as New Bushwick, embracing most of 
that part of the town south-east of the Cross roads, or the 
present Brooklyn and Newtown turnpike road. 

" These New Bushwick lands were probably reservations 
for woodland, to supply the people with fuel, as old wills 
are found devising the right to cut and carry away fuel to 
burn, but not to sell, from parts of those lands claimed by 
the testators. The salt meadows that became, in separate 
parcels, appurtenances of the different homesteads in the 
town, were distributed at a much earlier date. Many of them 
were vested by the original patents, and all that were capa- 
ble of use and improvement were made the means of sus- 
taining the cattle of the earhest settlers through the severe 
winters of those times, before artificial grasses were culti- 
vated on the uplands. Some portion of those meadows, how- 
ever, were too sunken to be of use, being below the ordinary 
tides, and hence remained without a claimant, till they were 
sold by the towns of WUliamsburgh and Bushwick." 

Civil History, 1660-1708. — The scattered agricul- 
tural inhabitants of the territory now comprised in the 
eastern district of the city of Brooklyn, seem to have 
made no attempt towards a regular settlement, or the 
organization of a town government, for a period of over 
twenty years from the date of its purchase from the na- 
tives, by the West India Company. In February, 1660, 
the troublous times led to the enforcement, by the gov- 
ernment, of stringent precautionary measures for the 
protection and safety of the established towns upon the 
western end of Long Island. " Outside residents, who 
dwell distant from each other," were directed also to 
" remove and concentrate themselves within the neigh- 
boring towns, and dwell in the same ;" because, says 
the order, " we have war with the Indians, who have 
slain several of our Netherland jieople." A village and 
block-house was accordingly erected by the Waal-boght 
residents during the month of March, 1660, on the high 
point of land (Keikout) on the East River, near the foot 
of the present South Fourth street, before referred to. 

Simultaneously, almost, the first steps were taken to- 
wards the establishment of a settlement in another and 
more remote {portion of the territory. On the 16th of 
February, according to the record, " as fourteen French- 
men, with a Dutchman, named Peter Janse Wit, their 
interpreter, have arrived here ; and, as they do not un- 
derstand the Dutch language, they have been with the 
Director-General and requested him to cause a town 
plot to be laid out at a proper place ; whereupon his 
honor fixed upon the 19th instant to visit the place and 
fix upon a site." 

Accordingly, three days after, on " February 1 9th, 
the Director-General, with the Fiscal, Nicasius de Sille 
and his Honor Secretary Van Ruyven with the sworn 
surveyor, Jaques Corteleau, came to Mispat [Mespath] 
and have fixed upon a place between Mispat kill [New- 
town Creek] and Norman's kill [Bushwick Creek], to 
establish a village ; and have laid out, by survey, twenty- 
two house lots, on which dwelling-houses are to be built." 


March Vth, according to the record, " Evert Hede- 
man, having erected the first house, between William 
Traphagen and Knoet Mouris, near the pond, came to 
dwell in the same." Other houses were erected during 
the same year. 

Ayear later," March 14th, 1661, the Director-General 
visited the new village, when the inhabitants requested 
his honor to give the place a name ; whereupon," taking 
his inspiration, no doubt, from its immediate surround- 
ings, " he named the town Jioswijck, i. e., the Town of 

Application was then made and granted for certain 
town privileges. This application was signed by twen- 
ty-three men, viz.: Peter Janse Wit; Evert Hedeman; 
Jan Willemse Yselstyn; Jan Tilje; Ryck Leydecker; 
Hendrik Willemsen; Barent Gerritsen; Jan Hendrick- 
sen; Jan Cornelisen Zeeuw; Barent Joosten; Francois 
dePuij; Johannes Casperse; Francisco deNeger; Pieter 

Lamot; Carel Fontyn; Henry ; Jan Catjouw; Jan 

Mailjaert; Hendrlck Janse Grever; Gysbert Thonissen; 
Joost Casperse; Willem Traphagen; Dirck Volkertse. 

The Governor also took occasion to call the attention 
of those living outside of the village to the great dan- 
ger to which they were exposed, and to recommend 
their instant removal to the greater security now offered 
them by the erection of a number of neighboring dwel- 
lings. He, furthermore, commanded the villagers to 
nominate six of their number, from whom he would 
select three as magistrates for the town of Boswyck. 
The people, therefore, nominated six of the most prom- 
inent of their number, viz. : Gysbert Theunis, Jan Cat- 
jouw, Ryck Leydecker, Peter Janse Wit, Jan Cornells 
Zeeuw and Jan Tilje, of whom the last three were se- 
lected by the Governor and confirmed as magistrates of 

Boswyck, like New Utrecht, having no schout of its 
own, was subject to the jurisdiction of Hegeman, the 
schout of Breuckelen, Amersfoort and Midwout, and the 
district became thenceforth known as the Five Dutch 

The village seems to have had a rapid accession of 
new settlers, for in May, 1661, we find the magistrates 
preferring a request for the grant of new lots and the 
establishment of roads. 

On the 38th of December, following (1662), "the magis- 
trates of the village of Boswyck, appeared before the council, 
representing that they in their vOlage, were in great need of 
a person who would act as clerk and sohoolmaster to instruct 
the youth ; and, that, as one had been proposed to them, viz. : 
Boudewyn Manout, from Crimpen op de Lecq [a village in 
Holland] they had agreed with him, that he should officiate 
as voorleser or clerk, and keep school for the instruction of 
the youth. For his [services] as clerk he was to receive 400 
guilders in [wampum] annually ; and, as schoolmaster, free 
house rent and firewood. They therefore solicited, that their 
action in the matter miglit meet the approval of the Director 
General and Council in Nieuw Netherland, and that the 
Council would also contribute something annually to facili- 
tate the payment of the said salary." 

The Council assented, and promised, that, after he 
had been duly examined and approved by the reverend 
ministers of the city, they would lighten the annual 
burden of the village by contributing annually/" 25, 
heavy money. 

Manout was afterwards appointed court clerk, upon 
which office he entered January 5, 1663. We present 
here a fac-simile, taken from the old Bushwick records, 

of Manout's signature, curious for its combination of 
the date with the name. 

It is noteworthy that, in December of this year, the 
Director and Council, hearing that Hendrick Barent 
Smith, " in contempt of the published and recently re- 
newed orders," continued to reside " on his separated 
plantation in the neghborhood of Boswyck, to the det- 
riment and injury of said village," ordered him to break 
up his building within twenty-four hours ; and in case 
of his default, the magistrates were empowered to de- 
molish it. 

It appears from records that during the third year 
of the existence of the village, its prosperity was on the 
increase ; for, on the 8th of February, 1663, the magis- 
trates requested -the Council to compel Jean Mailjeart, 
a Frenchman, to part with a few of his lots for the ac- 
commodation of new comers. 

After a full hearing of the case, Jan Mailjaert, " as 
the welfare of the village of Boswyck requires it," was 
ordered to give up sufficient land for six lots, each lot 
being six rods broad, and five and a half rods long, on 
payment by the new comers of 25 guilders in seawant 
for each lot. 

Amid the numerous evidences of increasing prosper- 
ity among the settlers of Boswyck, we must chronicle 
the gratifying and creditable fact that they voluntarily 
subscribed, March 30, 1662, the sum of forty-seven 
guilders, " to ransom Tunis Craeyeu's son Jacob, then a 
prisoner among the Turks." 

On page 28 of the old Bu.shwick record, is the follow- 
ing muster-roll of officers and soldiers of the town in 
1663 : Captain, Ryck Lydecker (Schout) ; Fnsigm,Ja,Ti 
Tilje Casperse; Secretary, Boudwyn Manout; Sergeant, 
Evert Hedeman; Corporals, Pieter Jans^ Wit, Jan Hen- 
dricks, Alexander Conquerare ; Privates, Gysbert Tu- 
nissen (Schepen), Barent Joost (Schepen), David Joch- 
emsen, Hendrick Grever, Jan Mailjaert, Andries Ba- 
rentse, Jan Parys, Evert Mauritz, Charles Fountain, Jan 
Cornel Zeieuw, Corn. Janse Zcieuw, Joost Caspersen, 
Johannes Caspersen, Melle Caspersen, Francois de Puj, 
Jan Williams Essellstein, William Traphagen, Barent 
Gerretse ; [Drummer), Dirck Volkertse, Volkert 


Dirckse, Jan Botzer, Wessel Gerrits, Nieolaes Jones, 
Tunis Martin, Carel Carelsen, Claes Wolf, Wonter 
Gysbertsen, Jacob Gysbertsen, Caesar Barentse, Carel 
Reyckwyl, Francois d'Meyer, Antoin d'Meyer. 

Thus quietly engaged in agricultural pursuits, the 
little community of Boswyck maintained the even tenor 
of its way, until disturbed, in 1C63 and 1664, by the 
political excitements which preceded the conquest of 
New Netherland, by the English. Throughout those 
times, Boswyck remained loyal to the States-General. 

At a meeting of the magistrates of most of the Dutch 
towns in the province, convened on the 1st of Novem- 
ber, 1663, to discuss the condition and affairs of the 
countiy, Boswyck was represented by Ruck Ly decker 
and Gyshert Teunissen. 

January, 1664. The Council received a petition from 
Abraham Jansen, carpenter, requesting permission to 
erect a mill near the village of Boswyck. He was re- 
quired to appear, together with the magistrates of that 
village, before the Council, and explain as to the pro- 
posed location. They did so, on 1st of February, and 
the magistrates of the town, on being interrogated, ex- 
presssd a cordial wish to have the water-mill erected on 
Mispat Kill, which was accordingly granted. 

In February, 1664, William Traphagen, for insulting 
one of the magistrates of Bushwiek, by calling him a 
false judge, was sentenced by the Governor and Coun- 
cil, to appear with uncovered head before the court of 
Bushwiek, and, in the presence of the fiscal, to beg par- 
don of God, justice and the insulted magistrate ; and 
to pay, in addition, thirteen guilders to the overseers of 
the poor of the town, with costs. 

In May, of the same year, Jan Willemsen Van Isel- 
steyn, commonly called Jan of Leyden, for using abu- 
sive language and writing an insolent letter to the 
magistrates of Bushmck, was sentenced to be fastened 
to a stake at the place of public execution, with a bridle 
in his mouth, a bundle of rods under his arm, and a 
paper on his breast bearing the inscription : " Lampoon 
writer, false accuser and defamer of its magistrates." 
After this ignominy he was to be banished, with costs. 

On the same day, William Jansen Traphagen, of 
Lemgo, for being the bearer of the above insolent let- 
ter to the magistrates of Bushwiek, as well as for using 
very indecent language towards them, was also sen- 
tenced to be tied to the stake, in the place of public 
execution, with a paper on his breast, inscribed " Lam- 
poon carrier." His punishment, also, was completed 
with banishment and costs. 

Bushwiek was represented in the General Assembly 
of April, 1664, by Jaii Van Cleef 2m<\. Guisbert Teunis- 
sen. Although English authority was distasteful to the 
inhabitants of the town, they submitted to it with char- 
acteristic Dutch apathy ; but they soon found that the 
petulance of Stuyvesant was far preferable to the arbi- 
trary rule of the English governors. But little of in- 
terest is to be found in the town records of Bushwiek 

at that period, except evidences of the arbitrary rule of 
the English colonial authorities. 

Jan Strijker and Guisbert 7f'>/;)?'.<.-.s'cw represented the 
town in the Hempstead Convention, at which the Duke's 
laws were promulgated. 

Not only did Governor Nicols assume control of civil 
affairs in the town, but he issued orders regulating ec- 
clesiastical matters; appointing clergymen, and prescrib- 
ing the amount of salary to be paid by the town, and 
even designating the persons to assess and collect it. 

" Anno 1665, the 27th of December, the minister, 
who was sent to preach by the Hon. Gov. Richard 
Nicolls, preaclied his first sermon at the house of Gys- 
bert Tonissen." 

The name of the minister who preached the above 
mentioned " first sermon " is not given in the record ; 
neither does it anywhere appear who his successors 
were, or whether they were Dutch, English or French. 
It probably is sufticient for us now, as it was for the 
good people of Boswyck in their day, to know tiiat 
they were the governor's favored gentry, and probably 
in his interest. 

It is hardly necessary to say that it was the Church 
of England which the governor thus sought to impose 
on the people of Bushwiek. 

But, though obliged to pay the taxes, they would not 
attend the preaching of the person so officiously thrust 
upon them, and finally he and his " Beloved Roger " 
were withdrawn. This attempt to force an established 
church upon the town of Bushwiek, was felt to be a 
galling injustice, and finally, with other infractions, led 
to a public meeting of the people of the county, held at 
Flatbush, in 1664, whereat were passed several strongly- 
worded resolutions, condemnatory of the English, for 
their faithlessness in violating the conditions of the 
treaty, and in compelling them to litigate in a language 
which they did not understand. A significant expres- 
sion of the feeling of the people on this point, is found 
in the fact that two cases then pending before the court 
of sessions, were withdrawn, and referred to arbitrators 
appointed by the meeting ; the parties alleging that 
they were Dutchmen, " and did not wish to have their 
rights adjudicated by an English court." It was, also, 
agreed by the meeting, that they would have nothing 
to do with the courts, and that they would settle all 
differences in future by arbitration. The inhabitants 
thereafter adhered so strictly to these resolutions, that 
the courts were seldom occupied by civil causes, and 
usually adjourned on the first day. No lawyer resided 
in the county before 1783 ; and the Episcopal Church 
was not established here until 1776, during the occupa- 
tion of the town by the British, during the Revolution- 
ary war. The Dutch churches supported all the poor 
of the county; all who could labor being employed, and 
no poor-tax was raised in the county until the year 

In February, 1687, Governor Dongau granted a pat- 



ent to the town of Bush wick (given at length in Stiles' 
Hist, of Brooklyn, pp. 345-380), conferring on it the 
usual corporate privileges of towns in those days, and 
accurately defining its boundaries. These boundaries 
did not include the site of the subsequent village of 
Williamsburgh. This probably arose, not from any 
over-sight, but from the fact that tlie site of Williams- 
burtrh was originally surveyed and owned by the Dutch 
West India Company. 

The good people of Bushwiek, in common with other 
towns, had suflPered so long from the misrule of the big- 
oted Duke of York, James the II, that the news of his 
abdication, in 1688, and the succession to the English 
throne of his daughter Mary, and her husband William, 
Prince of Orange, was received with a general outburst 
of heartfelt joy. 

The misguided zeal or ambition, however, of certain 
persons who were impatient of delay, defeated the de- 
signs of the new government, and involved the province 
in scenes of turmoil and strife. 

Although the Dutch inhabitants of Bushwiek gener- 
ally were peacefully inclined, and patient under the ar- 
bitrary rule of the English governors, there were 
among them some who were less tractable ; and occa- 
sionally instances of disorderly conduct are recorded — 
noticeably in 1693, 1694 and 1697. 

" On the 20th of August, 1693, Jurian Nagell, of Bushwiek, 
together with two others of Brooklyn, endeavored to stir up 
sedition among the crowd, who had assembled at a general 
training of the Kings County militia, on Flatland plains. 
Captain Jacques Cortelyou deposed before the Court of Ses- 
sions, that, ' being in arms at the head of his company,' he 
heard NageU say to the people then in arms on said plains, 
in Dutch, these mutinous, factious and seditious words, fol- 
lowing, viz. : ' Slaen ivij-der onder, wij seijn drie <fc egen 
een .■' in English : ' Let us knock them down, we are three 
to their one. ' Nagell subsequently confessed his error, and 
was released with a fine. 

The women, also, participated in the disorders of the times, 
for on the 8th of May, 1694, Rachel, the wife of John Luquer, 
and the widow Jonica Schamp, both of Bushwiek, were pre- 
sented before the court of sessions, for having, on the 24th of 
January previous, assaulted Capt. Peter Praa, and ' teare 
him by the hair as he stood at the head of his company, at 
Boswyck.' They, too, were heavily fined, and released after 
making due confession of their fault." 

The number of settlers in Bushwiek during the Dutch 
Regime was probably less than twenty-five families, 
not exceeding a hundred people, including the fourteen 
French emigrants, that constituted the primary village. 
But thirty-three names were on the tax lists in the year 
1703, over forty years after the English had possession 
of the country. Counting five to a family, would give a 
population of 165 ; which number was scarcely doubled 
at the beginning of the present century. 

In 1706, the improved lands assessed in Bushwiek, .as 
then in fence, were as follows : 

Hackert Hendrickse (widow). 180 acres ; Peter Praa. 68 ; 
Humphrey Clay, 52 ; Peter de Wit's widow, 96 ; Charles 

Fountain, 60 ; Teunis Wortman, 97 ; Francis Titus, 126 ; 
James Bobyne, 50 ; John Meseroll, 170 ; Jurian Nagell, 95 ; 
Cornelia Van Katts, 108 ; John Luquier, 108 ; John Luquier's 
Mill, 25 ; Philip Volkert's, 54 ; Peter Layston, 50 ; John 
Camp, 40 ; Jochem Verscheur, 60 ; Auck Hegeman, 40 ; Peter 
Williams, 60 ; Joost Dyeye, 107 ; Garret Cooke, 50 ; (Ja) 
Cobus Collier, 20 ; William West, 14 ; Derick Andriese, 14 ; 
Cornelius Laguson, 52 ; Hendrick Jansen, 54 ; Gysbert Bog- 
ert, 10 ; Dorothy Verscheur, 70 ; Gabon (or Galen) Laqiull, 
36 ; Ann Andriessen, 30 ; Gabriel Sprong, 16 ; Teunis Titus, 
47 ; Hendrick De Forest, 14 ; Jacobus Jansen, 20 ; Charles 
Folkerts, 110 ; John Hendrick, 26 ; Frederic Symonds, 61 ; 
Philip Nagell, 13. Total acres, 2,443. 

&^PH?.™™'i^— - 

Peter Cortilleau. — Surveyor. 

On the 12th of August, 1708, the town of Bushwiek 
received from Gov. Cornbury, a new patent, confirma- 
tory of that previously granted by Gov. Dongan. 

During the administration of Lord Cornbury, the 
colony was called upon to exert all its energy in furnish- 
ing men, provisions and munitions of war, for the earlier 
colonial wars. In connection with this war, tradition 
has jjreserved a most romantic and touching episode, 
which occurred in the town of Bushwiek. 

A prominent young man named Peter Andriese was 
about to be married to the daughter of Jan Stryker, of 
Flatbush, when he was induced to enlist in the army. 
The entreaties of his friends, and of his intended bride, 
failed to dissuade him from his purpose, and he departed 
with his comrades. Days, months and years passed, ^ 
his ^ancee every hour expecting to hear of her betrothed, 
but in vain. At last, ovei-gome by sorrow and hope 
deferred, death made her his victim ; and on the very 
day of her burial, Andriese unexpectedly made his ap- 
pearance in town. For years he had been a captive 
among a tribe of the Northern Indians, and had returned 
too late. 

Ecclesiastical History— 1700 to 1824.— In the 
absence of any ecclesiastical records, there is no evi- 
dence of the organization of a church, or the erection 
of a house of worship, in this town, prior to the com- 
mencement of the last century. 
Mr. Steaens thus remarks : 

"Coming out of a storm of papal persecution, in their 
Fatherland, the settlers of Boswyck brought with them a 
high religious purpose to sustain the integrity of their reli- 
gious professions in this land of their adoption. But, they 
soon came in contact with the calculating political policy of 
the Dutch governors and the West India Company, to subor- 
dinate religion to the control and profit of the government. 
The laws enacted by Stuyvesant in 1656, against eonventioles, 
show the temper of the Dutch Government — ' That no person 
should exercise the office of a religious teacher, unless his 
credentials were issued by the civil authority.' The Reformed 
Religion as settled by the Synod of Dordrecht (Dort) was made 
the only religion to be publicly taught. Lutherans with the 
others were forbidden free public worship. And the settle- 
ment of Quakers and i^aciabonds, in the Province, without 
previous permission, was prohibited. With such conserva- 
tive supervision, it is not singular, that the volatile French 
settlers of Boswick foimd few inducements to a religious 


faith, whose sj.-vioes, if held at all, were conducted la a lan- 
guage they did not understand. And, while it was an offense, 
to be punished by the magistrate, if they met to compare 
views and instruct each other in religion, as they had learned 
it in France, it is not singular that religion degenerated 
among this handful of people ; so that, for near forty years, 
after the settlement of the town, no church seems to have 
existed in any form of visible organization. The Dominies 
from Brooklyn and Flatbush occixsionally visited the place, 
and ' comforters of the sick ' visited the families and officiated 
at burials, from time to time. But this remote town realized 
more severely than other places, the general poverty of reli- 
gious privileges, prevailing in all the New Netherlands. The 
half-dozen religious teachers of the Reformed faith in all the 
province, seemed especially jealous of their faith or denomi- 
national interests, to the extent of sanctioning the acts of re- 
ligious persecutions, inaugurated by the government. They 
had neither the numbers nor the facilities for the religious 
teaching of the people ; and yet they were so fearful of con- 
venticles, or their fanaticisms, that they would constrain the 
people to a semi-heathenism, instead of allowing them any 
scope for personal inquiry and social worship. For all the 
forty years after the settlement of the town, there is scarcely 
a way-point of reUgious interest in its history. If preaching 
they occasionally had, in the town-house or private dwellings, 
it was doubtless of a stiff, unyielding character, more theo- 
logical than religious, more dogmatical than sympathetic, 
more speculative than practical. The few lights from the 
Holland schools came to demonstrate their pedantry among 
these remote people of the border, rather than to instruct their 
hearts in the duty and peace of love to God." 

" A part of the communion service still in use," says 
Prime, "bears the date of 1708, from which it is in- 
ferred that the church was formed about that time. 
There is also a receipt extant, for a church bell, dated 
in 1711, which renders it probable that the house of 
worship had been erected not long before." This edi- 
fice was octagonal in form, with a very high and steep 
pyramidal roof, terminating in an open cupola or bel- 
fry, the whole greatly resembling a haystack. Exter- 
nally, being constructed of frame work, it was dimuni- 
tive and rustic in aspect. Internally, it was a mere in- 
elosure, without pews or gallery, till near the close of 
the century; the congregation furnishing themselves 
with benches or chairs. In 1790, the building received 
a new roof ; and, in 1795, a front gallery was erected, 
and the ground floor furnished with pews. It was taken 
down in 1840. 

The people of Bushwick constituted a part of the 
Collegiate church of the county, and, as such, were min- 
istered to by the pastors of the Five Dutch towns. Ac- 
cording to the preceding dates, of course, Messrs. Free- 
man and Antonides were the first pastors, and preached 
here alternately every third Sabbath. There is still ex- 
tant a receipt from the former, for salary, in 1709. 

In 1787, the Rev. Peter Lowe was installed here as 
collegiate pastor with the Rev. Martinus Schooumaker, 
who resided at Flatbush. Having withdrawn from the 
oversight of this church to the exclusive charge of the 
associate churches of Flatbush and Flatlauds, he closed 
his labors here in the year 1808. He was succeeded in 

1811 by the Rev. Dr. John Bassett, a native of Bush- 
wick, where he was born, October 1st, 1764; and a man 
of extraordinary erudition. He was an excellent He- 
brew scholar, as is attested by the fact that he was, in 
1797, appointed by the General Synod of the Re- 
formed Protestant Dutch church, to fill a professor's 
chair in Queen's (now Rutger's) College, New Bruns- 
wick, N. J., which position he held for many years. 
During this period he engaged the services of a col- 
league, Rev. John Barent Johnson, likewise a native of 
Kings county, who was installed in 1796, and who sub- 
sequently became the pastor of the Reformed Dutch 
Church of Brooklyn. He was, also, a thorougli classi- 
cal scholar, and generally had several young men in his 
family and enjoying his instruction. Although not 
gifted with great powers of imagination or eloquence, 
he was a sound and edifying preacher ; and the history 
of Brooklyn during the war of 1812, attests his fervent 
and lofty patriotism. It may be further mentioned as 
a proof of his ability, that being equally familiar with 
the Dutch, as with the English language, he undertook 
the translation of Vonderdoiik\i History of Neto 
Netherland, for publication; but by some means the 
manuscript was lost, and the task was subsequently re- 
peated by the late Gen. Jeremiah Johnson. Mr. Bas- 
sett, in 1824, was suspended from the ministry for 
intemperance, and died on 4th of February of that year. 
During the Revolutionary War. — The Revolu- 
tionary history of the town is by no means so inter- 
esting as that of its neighbor, Brooklyn ; and its revo- 
lutionary spirit, outspoken and free at first, was, like 
that of Brooklyn, also, quickly nipped in the bud by 
the disastrous result of the battle of Long Island, in 
August, 1776. Previous to that event, during the year 
1775, the popular sentiment and action was at once 
loyal and energetic in behalf of the American cause. 
Bushwick was then represented in the First New York 
'Provincial Congress, and also, at the subsequent ses- 
sions of the same body, in '75 and '76 ; and at the con- 
ventions of the State in 1776 and '77, by Mr. Theodoras 
Polhemus ; and many of her prominent citizens, such 
as Ab'm Ranst, Ab'm Luquere, John Titus, Joost Dur- 
yea, Alexander Whaley and others, were foremost in 
all county and local action which was calculated to ad- 
vance the interests of their country. At the battle of 
Brooklyn, and in the retreat which followed, Bushwick 
was represented by a militia company under command 
of Capt. John Titus. Also, in a list of officers chosen 
by the different companies in Kings County, who have 
signed the Declaration, and taken their commission, we 
find among the Light Horse, Jacob Bloom, 2d Lieuten- 
ant ; and Peter Wykoff, Quarter- Master ; Ab'm Van 
'&'AMi!,t, 1st Lieutenaid ; Peter Colyer, 2d Lieutenant ; 
John Skillman, Ensign. Wm. Van Cott, of Bushwick, 
shot a British officer who was engaged in reconnoiter- 
ing the American lines on Fort Putnam, and then put 
up lu.s gun, saying he had done his part for that day. 


Bushwick During the British Occupation, 
1 776-1 780. — After that unfortunate battle, the town 
was subjected to all the inconveniences and evils of an 
armed occupation. In November, 1776, a regiment of 
Hessians, under Col. Rahl, had their winter quarters 
here, and constructed barracks on the land then be- 
longing to Abraham Luquere ; the timber for said bar- 
racks being taken with military freedom, from the Wal- 
labout swamp. Many of the troops were also billeted on 
the inhabitants. The leading patriots were either in 
active service, or had been obliged to leave their homes 
and estates to the tender mercies of the invaders; and, 
in some cases, to confiscation. Their families were sub- 
jected to the arbitrary authority of British officials, and 
to the insults or depredations of the soldiery who were 
quartered upon them. Their woodlands, brush-wood 
and fencing were rapidly appropriated to camp uses, 
their teams impressed into the king's service, and, in 
many ways, they were made to feel the power of their 

Of the auxiliary troops of the British army, Gen. 
Johnson's Manuscript Recollections of the Revolution 
gays : " Col. Rahl took up his quarters in Bushwick, 
with a regiment of Hessians. They constructed bar- 
racks on the land of Abraham Luqueer, although many 
of them were also quartered on the inhabitants. The 
regiment of Col. Rahl made free use of the wood in the 
Wallabout swamp, which extended along north of the 
Cripplebush road, from the bay to Newtown creek." In 
the humane treatment of the conquered enemy, the Hes- 
sian soldiers, after they became acquainted with the 
people of the island, would compare with the British, 
much to the disadvantage of the latter. The testimony 
of the prisoners of the Wallabout prison ships is often 
highly creditable to their humanity. They had first, 
however, to be disabused of the conviction so craftily 
impressed by the British, of the barbarity and savage 
cruelty of the Americans. But their cupidity and 
proneness to commit petty robberies (appropriating 
every species of property upon which they could, with- 
out much personal risk, lay their hands) has begot for 
them the reputation of arrant thieves. " It was seldom, 
however," says Field, " that they wantonly injured the 
property of others, as they did in the case of Hendrick 
Suydam, situated upon what was then known as New 
Bushwick lane (now Evergreen avenue, in the Eigh- 
teenth ward) which connected the Jamaica turnpike 
with the Cripplebush road to Newtown. His house, 
which still stands, is a venerable and well preserved 
specimen of Dutch architecture, the lower story built 
of stone of suflicieut thickness, almost, to serve for the 
walls of a fortress; and lighted by small windows with 
long panes of glass set in heavy sash, which give it a 
quaint air of peering through spectacles. Its walls, ac- 
cording to the traditions of the family, were erected not 
less than one hundred and sixty years ago, and the house 
was located (according to the invariable practice of the 

old Holland settlers), in a little hollow where it would 
be protected from the sweep of the dreaded north wind. 
The airy sites and broad prospect, which so entice the 
occupants of Brooklyn soil, had no attractions for the 
phlegmatic and comfort-loving Dutch race. The old 
farmers quietly hid their houses away in the little valleys 
and turns of the road, much as a cautious fowl creeps 
into a hedge and constructs its nest for a long incu- 
bation. Hendrick Suydam, like his brother, the stout 
Lambert Suydam of Bedford, captain of the Kings 
County troop of horse, was a sound whig; though com- 
pelled, from his situation in the midst of the British 
camp, to take the oath of allegiance or suffer the con- 
finement of a fetid and infected prison, with numbers 
of his Bushwick neighbors. He could not, however, 
obtain his freedom from an infection scarcely less pestif- 
erous than the other alternative, the lodgment, in his 
house, of a squad of Hessian soldiers. So filthy were 
their habits, that, in the summers succeeding their occu- 
pancy of the houses of Bushwick, Brooklyn and Flat- 
bush, where they had been quartered, a malignant fever 
ensued, which carried off numbers of the inhabitants. 
In consequence of their peculiar habits, so abhorrent to 
the fastidious neatness of the Dutch, these Hessians 
were termed the Dirty Blues. During the occupation 
of the Suydam house, a Hessian captain, for want of 
other occupation, or jjossibly to spite his Dutch host, 
chopped with his sword several large pieces from one 
of the side posts of the doorway. As a memento of 
the old troublous times, and to keep green the memory 
of the wrongs which so deeply embittered him, the old 
whig would never permit the defacement to be repaired. 
With true Dutch pertinacity, in the same humor, his 
descendants have very commendably preserved the 
tokens of the detested occupation of their domicile by 
a foreign enemy, and the marks of the Hessian sword 
are still apparent." 

The greatest trouble experienced by the farmers dur- 
ing the war, was from the tories, or cow-boys, who 
were amenable to no law, and influenced by no motives 
of humanity or honesty. Old Mrs. Meserole, who lived 
on Greenpoint, used often to say that, though residmg 
alone with a young family around her, she was never 
molested by the British officers, or their men ; but she 
lived in constant dread of the tories. 

Rappelje's tavern, at the Cross-roads, was the favor- 
ite rendezvous of these robbers; and, as long as they 
infested the towns, there was no quiet or safety in the 
land. After the British left the country, they disap- 
peared, many of them going to Nova Scotia. 

A battalion of guides and pioneers, composed of 
three companies, were quartered in the town of Bush- 
wick, from 1778 until November, 1783. They were a 
set of notorious villains, collected from almost every 
part of the country, and organized under the command 
of Captains McPherson, Williams, Van Allen and 
Purdy. Williams and Purdy were from Westchester 


county, Van Allen from Bergen county, N. J., ami Mc- 
Pherson from the south. This command supplied the 
British army with guides and spies for every part of 
the country; and, whenever an expedition was organized 
to attack any place, drafts were made on this battalion. 
After the peace, these men dared not remain in this 
country, and were not wanted in Britain. Nova Scotia 
was their only place of refuge, and thither they went, 
where proper provision was made for them by the 
British authorities. 

After the provisional treaty of peace, these guides 
returned to quarters at Bushwick. They numbered 
about one hundred and fifty under command of Capt. 
McPherson, and were encamped on the farm of Abm. 
Van Ranst, then an exile. The dwelling, which stood 
about one hundred and fifty yards northward from the 
Bushwick church, was occupied by the captain himself, 
who kept a guard of honor, and a sentinel constantly 
stationed at his door. In this connection we may re- 
late the following anecdote, as given in the Manuscript 
Recollections of Gex. Johnson : 

"In the month of August, 1788, on a fine evening, seven 
young whigs were together along the shore opposite to Cor- 
lears hook, the tide being then quite high. Two Britisli long- 
boats had drifted on the shore, where they had lain for some 
time. It was pi-oposed to take the boats up Bushwick creek 
and lay them on the meadow of John Skillman, as prizes, 
which was forthwith done. A few days afterwards, in the 
month of September, several of the party, being at the Fly 
Market in New York, were told that Capt. McPherson had 
caused the boats to be removed to his house, and had pur- 
chased paint and other material with w!iicli to put the boats 
in order for his own use. It was immediately resolved to re- 
move tlie boats, that night, from the captain's quarters. A 
gallon of shrub, some crackers and a salmon were purchased 
for the expedition, a small hill on John Skillman's land was 
designated as the place of rendezvous, and nine o'clock was 
named as the hour. Three of the party brought up a boat 
with oars to row away the boats with; and, at the appointed 
hour, the whole party, consisting of William Miller, Joseph 
and Fi-aucis Skillman, John Bogart, John Coaselyea, Francis 
Titus and the writer, were assembled at the appointed place. 
It was a beautiful moonlit evening and the soldiers were 
playing about tlie fields. The little party of whigs regaled 
themselves with their provisions, until about ten o'clock, 
when two of their number ventured to reconnoitre, and re- 
turned with the report that the boats lay near the house, 
that a party were dancing and frolicking there, and a senti- 
nel was at the door. Meanwhile, a dark cloud was rising in 
the west, foreboding a violent storm. It came on, and then 
we went, took up the boats, carried them over a stone wall, 
and dragging them about one hundred and fifty yards, 
launched them into Skillman's creek. When we took the 
boats the sentinel at the door had deserted his post; we 
found a fine marquee pitched near by, which was trembling 
in the rising storm. I cut a few skij-lights in the top, and 
then severing the weather braces, wliich sang Uke fiddle 
strings, it fell prostrate. So violent was the lightning and 
rain, that we did not see a living person, besides ourselves, 
before we were out of Busliwick creek with the boats, wliich 
we took up the river to John Miller's, opposite Blackwell's 
island, and left them in his barn, returning to Francis Ti- 
tus's in our boat, at sunrise. In passing down Bushwick 

creek, one of our prizes filled with water, but we did not 
abandon her. On our arrival at the mouth of the creek, the 
storm was over, the moon shone brightly again, and we were 
hailed by a sentinel who threatened to fire upon us, to which 
we answered roughly, and passed on our way. 

" The next day all Bushwick was in an uproar. The Yan- 
kees were charged with infringing the treaty of peace; the 
sentinels and guards who lay in Mr. Skillman's barn, within 
fifty yards of the place where tlie boats were launched, were 
charged with unwatchfulness. It was not known who took 
the boats, before November 25, 1783. The act was caused by 
the feeling of resentment which the whole party had against 
Captain McPherson. He was a bad mau, and when his sol- 
diers were accused by neighbors with thefts, and other an- 
noyances, retorted upon their accusers with foul language, 

Mr. Wm. O'Gorman, in his admirable antiquarian 
sketches, in the Lonff Island Weekly Star, under date 
of October 8, 1880, says: "The old Skillman House, 
which may be considered to have been the headquar- 
ters of the expedition, is still standing, in Frost street, 
between Lorimer .and Union avenue. Its exterior is 
altered from the old Dutch pattern to modern shape, 
but the interior is characteristic of the first settlement. 
Thirty years since the eye of the tourist often took 
pleasure in viewing the fine old house of former 
days, standing as it then did on a grassy knoll well 
planted with large trees. At that period the spring 
tides used to cover the marsh up to the garden of the 
house ; and, by sunset at such times the landscape shone 
with the splendor of primitive time. But sad is the 
change for the landscape; more or the salt mead- 
ows are being filled in and the spring-tides visit it no 
more. The back of the house now fronts on the street, 
and the old hall door (in two sections) now guards the 
rear entrance. Of the Van Ranst homestead nothing 
remains but the foundations, still to be seen on lots 
Nos. 245 and 247 "Withers street, near Kingsland ave- 
nue, five blocks away from the Skillman House. The 
headquarters of McPherson and his spy-battalion were, 
until their removal two years since, the guard-lodge of 
the Cannon Street Baptist Cemetery." 

Upon the occasion of the evacuation of the city of 
New York by the British army, and its occupation by 
the Americans, November 25th, '83, a number of the 
inhabitants of Bushwick met and appointed December 
2d, as the day, and the banks of the East river, in full 
view of the city, as a place of rejoicing, and sent an 
address and invitation to Washington, who returned a 
courteous reply — given at length, in Stiles' History of 

Among the patriots of Bushwick, we may here re- 
cord the names of JbAn Provost (grandfather of Hon. 
A. J. Provost), who escaped the pursuit of a detach- 
ment of British soldiers on Greenpoint, and was 
obliged to secrete himself for three days in Cripple- 
Inish swamp ; during which time he sustained life 
by milking the cows which pastured there; of Johyi 
A. Meserole, who was taken and confined in the Pro- 


vost jail at New Tork; of John I. Meserole who was 
mistaken for John A., while out gunning in a skiff, and 
arrested as a spy, but subsequently released; and of 
Abraham Meserole, another member of the same family 
who was in the American army. Jacob Van Cott and 
David Miller were also in the service, and taken pris- 
oners. William Conselyea was taken during the war, 
and hung over a well and threatened in order to make 
him confess where his money was; Nicholas Wyckoff 
was engaged in vidette duty with a troop of horse; and 
Alexander Whaley was one of those decided characters 
of whom we should be glad to learn more than we 
have been able to ascertain, in spite of much inquiry 
and research. He was a blacksmith, residing at the 
Bushwick Cross Roads, on land forming a part of 
Abraham Rapalye's forfeited estates, and which he 
purchased at the commissioners' sale, March 21, 1785. 
(Liber vi. Convey. Kings Co., 345). The building 
which Mr. Whaley occupied was erected by himself, 
on the south side of the present Flushing avenue, his 
liberty-sign ])ole rising from a little knoll some twenty 
feet west of the house. His blacksmith-shop was on 
the site of the present house, east of the old Whaley 
house. He died at Bushwick, in February, 1833, in 
the eighty-eighth year of his age. Bold, faithful, and 
patriotic, and odd withal, he made his mark upon the 
day and generation in which he lived. His obituary 
notice (all too brief) says that "he was one of the 
pioneers of American liberty ; being one of those who 
assisted in throwing the tea overboard in Boston har- 
bor. He was the confidential friend of Washington, 
and in all the relations of life he always did his duty." 

Several estates were confiscated, among which were 
those of Williams, Rapalje and others; the owners 
finding it convenient to go to Nova Scotia. 

Although opposite political opinions were frequently 
entertained by different members of the same families, 
it is worthy of remark that they always acted honestly 
towards one another. Though a great number of the 
inhabitants of Bushwick were whigs, the royalists even 
were men of peaceable character and integrity. This 
fact, as recorded by a venerable eye witness of the 
Revolution, speaks volumes in favor of the ancestry of 

Bushwick, from the Close of the Revolution 
to 1854. — Tliere were in Bushwick, at the close of the 
Revolution, three distinct settlements, or centres of 
population, each retaining its old Dutch name, and 
very much of its old Dutch quaintness of appearance. 
These were het dorp, the town plot, first laid out by 
Gov. Peter Stuyvesant, in 1661, at the junction of 
North Second street and Bushwick avenue; het Kivis 
padt, since known as the Cross roads, at the crossing 
of the present Bushwick avenue and the Flushing 
road; and het strand, or the strand, along the East 
river shore. 

Het Dorp, or the town plot of Bushwick, was the 

centre of town life, towards which all the principal 
roads of the settlement verged; and, in every direction, 
as the citizen receded from it, he receded from civiliza- 




,- Devoe Houses. 

Bushwick Church. 

School House. 6. Conselyea House. 

7. Old Bushwick graveyard, indicated by dotted line. 

The remains of ancient Bushwick, says the Newtown Anti- 
quary, Mr. Wm. O'Gorman, " cluster around the Dutch Re- 
formed Church on the confines of North Second and Hum- 
boldt streets, Brooklyn, E. D., where the animosity of 
Governor Stuj'vesant planted them in 1061, to gratify his 
hatred against the English Kills of Newtown. On March 
14tli, 1661, he probably emerged from tlie old Conselyea 
House on Hvimboldt street — irascible old man that he was — 
supporting a heavy dinner on his historic wooden leg, ratlxer 
unsteadied from heavy lager, and pronounced and christened 
the new village ' Boswijck,' which the moderns have made 
Bushwick, the Low Dutch name for 'heavy woods.' The 
venerable homestead of the Con^ehjea family stands angle- 
ways to Humboldt street; with its front looking,asof yore,on 
old Bushwick Church, its rear to Jackson street. It is worth 
a visit. Part of the building has been lately cut away. The 
last occupant of the name was 'Aunt Katty,' widow of And'w 
J. Conselyea. She died in 1873, and the family of Conselyea 
departed with her cofim through tlie old portals of the home- 
stead, never to return. A writer of that day tlius describes 
the rooms left vacant: ' Tlie window sills are of sufficient ca- 
pacity to seat three men comfortably, and are each one foot 
in depth; tlie window sashes are the same as were originally 
placed here, with nine small 6x7 panes of glass in each sash. 


ST . 


















The ceiling of tliis room is particularly worthy of notice. It 
is supported by five ponderous beams that measure 14^x7^ 
inches iu thickness, and are twenty feet long. They are 
painted brown, and give the room rather a gloomy appear- 
ance. The flooring is of boards that are 17 inches in width, 
and these broad boards always mark a house as very ancient. 
The old cupboard of loO years ago was removed to Jamaica, 
and is now preserved in the house of John Conselyea, of that 
township; it was and is yet an ornamental piece of furni- 

Tbe old Bushwick church was an octagonal edifice, 
standing on the site of, and facing the same way as the 
present one. Its jjortrait will be found in the Ecclesi- 
astical History of Kings County. The wrinkled and 
homely old one-story town-house, and the school-house 
on the opposite side of the Wood-point road, which leads 
from the church to a point of woods on the meadows, near 
Van Cott and Meeker avenues; the group of one-story 
Dutch cottages, with their long curved sloping roofs, 
marking the entrance of KycJcout lane, which connected 
Bushwick church with Kyckout or Lookout point, on the 
East river, crossing Grand street near Tenth; all these 
formed a scene of primitive Dutch life, exceedingly at- 
tractive from its simplicity and almost grotesque quaint- 
ness. And, so it remained until 1835. In 1840, the old 
church (Map d. Fig. 1), was replaced by 
the present edifice. In 1846, Maspeth 
avenue was opened to Newtown, and 
several houses erected upon it, this side 
of the creek. The old town-house yet 
stands (Map d, Fig. 2), and around it 
centre the memories of the ancient, civil, 
ecclesiastical and educational glories <>l 
Bushwick. In front of it (or more 
probably of its predecessor), contuma- 
cious John of Leyden was exposed to 
the public gaze, ignominiously tied to a 
stake, with a horse-bridle in his mouth, 
a bundle of rods under his arm and a 
label on his breast, stating that he was 
a writer of lampoons, etc. Here, too, 
a thief was once punished by being 
made to stand under a gallows, with a rope around his 
neck and an empty sword scabbard in his hand ; and 
here, also, saddest sight of all, a venerable clergyman 
of the town, who had incautiously married a couple 
without observing the formalities demanded by the law, 
was condemned to flogging and banishment ; a sent- 
ence, however, which, in consideration of his gray 
hairs, was commuted to that of exile from the town. 

" Long after the Revolution, the old town-house con- 
tinued to be the high seat of justice, and to resound 
with the republican roar of vociferous electors on town 
meetings days. The first Tuesday in April, and the 
fourth of July, in each succeeding year, found het-dorp 
(now Anglicized to Bushwick Church), suddenly meta- 
morphosed from a sleepy little Dutch hamlet into a 
brawling, swaggering country town, with very de- 

bauched habits. Our Dutch youth had a most enthusi- 
astic tendency and ready facility in adopting the con- 
vivial customs and uproarious festivity of the loud- 
voiced and arrogant Anglo-American youngsters. One 
day the close-fisted electors of Bushwick devised a plan 
for easing the public burden, by making the town- 
house pay part of the annual taxes ; and, accordingly, 
it was rented to a Dutch publican, who afforded shelter 
to the justices and constables, and by his potent liquors 
contributed to furnish them with employment. In this 
mild partnership, so quietly aiding to fill each other's 
pockets, our old friend Chris. Zimmerman had a share 
until he was ousted, because he was a better customer 
than landlord. At last the electors of Bushwick grew 
tired of keeping a hotel, and sold the venerable struc- 
ture to an infidel Yankee, at whose bar the good do- 
minie could no longer feel free to take an inspiriting cup 
before entering the pulpit; and the glory of the town- 
house of Bushwick departed." (Field). 

The school-house which stood near (Map d, Fig. 3), 
was occupied by a district school until within a few 
years past — latterly under the charge of the Board of 

In siglit of the church, and covering the present 


junction of Parker street and Kingsland avenue, was 
the ancient graveyard of the original Dutch settlement, 
for many years unused and its few remaining monu- 
ments neglected, broken .and almost undecipherable. 
In 1879, Isaac De Bevoise, grandson of Isaac, who was 
here buried, undertook the pious duty of removing 
such remains as were left. He collected seven large 
casket-boxes of bones, whose identification was impos- 
sible ; besides a few remains which were identified by 
neither coflin- plates or headstone. He estimated them 
at 250 skeletons, and he remarked that all had sound 
teeth — save the one tooth which used to hold the 
Dutch pipe. The work of removal was done at the ex- 
pense of the old families, under the direction of the 
Consistory of the Church ; and the boxes are deposited 
under Bushwick Church. The few inscriptions in this 


old bvirial-place liave been preserved by Stiles, in 
Hist, of Brooklyn, ii. 3 74 ; and by Town-Clerk Wm. 
O'GoEMAN, in the L. I. City Weekly Star, Dec. 31, 

From the old burying-ground, and looking along the 
old Woodpoint road, the two venerable De Voe houses 
might be seen (Map d, 4 and 5), standing (on either 
side the old road) between Parker and Bennett 
streets, near De Bevoise avenue. They are well de- 
picted in the accompanying sketch taken in the fall of 


On De Bevoise avenue was the old De Bevoise 
house, later known as the residence of Charles I. De 
Bevoise. Here, again, we must let our Newtown 
friend, Town-Clerk Wm. O'G-okman describe : 

" The ' Manor House ' on Meeker Avenue is a good point to 
stroll from, when historically inclined, towards old Bushwick 
township. Here wound its way the Woodpoint road to the 
old town dock ; and here, within sight of each other on oppo- 
site sides of Meeker Avenue, are the WyckofI and DeBevoise 
homesteads. Eacli of them has its liistory, antedating the 
Declaration of Independence by many years. But each 
house has likewise a middle history, connecting tlie past gen- 
eration with the present by two living and hearty links. * 
* * In the Manor house we see the birth-place of Nicholas 
Wyckoff, President of the First National Bank. He was 
Supervisor of Bushwick town. Step across Meeker Avenue, 
and on the edge of the open lots stands the old DeBevoise 
house. Charles I. DeBevoise was born in that house, and he 
too became a Supervisor of Bushwick township. We believe 
they are the only representatives of Bushwick now remaining. 

" Bushwick, from its birth under the old Dutch Governor 
Stuyvesant, was a lively little township, and much prone to 
irritate iier neighbors. In fact she was a thin wedge driven 
from Greenpoint to the ocean, right through the extremities 
of several sleepy towns ; and, as her humor was, she con- 
stantly kept one or other of them awake. The Supervisor of 

little Bushwick of that date must be active, of an aggressive 
turn of mind, but withal good-humored, and endowed with 
the vitality of perfect health. These were the sine-qua-nons 
demanded of all candidates in her elections; which were a 
species of Olympic games once a year to her. 

' ' The competitors were many, and to be successful was 
esteemed of great honor. Charles I. DeBevoise and Nicholas 
Wyckoff bore off these honors in their day. In their stock of 
health they out-distanced all competitors. It is doubtful if 
either of them lias lost a tooth — they are neither of them 
venerable — they are merely men containing some eighty 
years of accurate recollections and of the best health. This 
represents their physical condition, the only province of the 
tourist. Their reputation as citizens is 
known of aU." [Mr. Wyckoff died while 
these pages were passing through the 
press. — Editor.] 

"The "Wyckoff House" was erected 
by Theodorus PoUiemus, of Flatbush, who 
married Anna Brinckerhoflf here, and here 
settled. He afterwards became the chosen 
representative of Bushwick in the Con- 
gress and Conventions, from 1775 to 1777. 
He died in 1781, and after Independence 
liis children sold out to Peter Wyckoff, the 
father of the President of the First Na- 
tional Bank. But the Wyckoffs still held, 
and still do hold, their ancestral farm on 
the boundary-line between Brooklyn and 
Newtown, beyond Metropolitan Avenue. 
The ex-Supervisor resided there ; wliile 
the Polhemus-Wyckoff estate, with its old 
house, has passed to the stranger." 

Of the genealogies and romances of 

the Polhemus and connected families 

of Schencks, Hikers, Remsens and Lar- 

ramores, the town-cleek discourses 

most genially and instructively. 

"Thirty years since and the Manor House grounds on 

Meeker avenue presented a Baronial appearance ; the Wyckoff 

woods and the Wycoff-Polhemus house had retained all its 

companion trees, barns and out-houses. Two immense 

poplars stood sentries at the gate on the Woodpoint road ; 

they have yielded to time, and are no more. In the last 

stages of their decay, our thoughts often reverted to the 

times when the Bushwick farmers carried their produce to 

the old town-dock past the same trees and watched the 

growth of the young saplings newly planted. 

Thirty years ago, and nothing was disturbed along the 
Woodpoint road, on its way to the town-dock of Bushwick ; 
but, m 1880, all is uprooted, and the town-dock itself and its 
tide-water are traversed over by the horse-cars. The specta- 
tors of the old poplars never dreamt of such changes ; but 
the Wyckoff house is now, as ever, a farm-house. 

The DeBevoise house is also on the old Woodpoint road ; 
and, for generations, was the homestead of the DeBevoise 
family, of Bushwick, descended from Carel DeBevois, the 
Huguenot, who became the first school-teacher and town- 
clerk of Brooklyn. It still belongs to Cliarles I. DeBevoise, 
and in that house he was born, and there, too, he was mar- 
ried—once, if not twice ; and we believe history records that 
his father, Isaac DeBevoise, did also endure similar experi- 
ence of these changes in life. The ex-Supervisor resides in 
the large mansion adjoining the old house, nor have his eyes 
ever failed, for upwards of eighty years, to rest on the place 



of his nativity— which circumstance is rather a unique ex- 
perience of constancy in this our land of change. The 
Schenck family, of Brooklyn, are closely entwined with 
these DeBevoises, of Bushwick ; in proof of which, on a 
window of the old house, remains the name of a bride 
from that family, cut on Iier wedding-day, immediately be- 
fore she had assumed her new name of DeBevoise. The 
fifth generation are now represented in continuous residence 
from Carel DeBevoise, of 1736, who was a farmer, and the 
first of the name in Bushwick, to Charles I., and his son, 
Isaac DeBevoise ; and, still later, to a six-year old boy, the 
son of this last Isaac. 

The barn of the DeBevoise house is precisely as the Hes- 
sians of General Rahl liad left it— warm and comfortable in 
a plentiful neighborhood, which these warriors of so much 
per head soon learned to appreciate and fully to enjoy. To 
the sound of the drum they trampled down, in 1776, a new 
clay floor ; and, this accomplished, they eat, drank and 
smoked out their long occupation. Of the English tongue, 
they learned but little from the natives of Bushwick, who, 
indeed, knew little of it themselves ; all spoke in Dutch, and 
in secret they cleaved together until the war was over. 
Few of them returned to Europe ; many remained in Bush- 
wick ; Louis Warner, who lived near Cooper's glue factory, 
Hendrick Plaus, and Christopher Zimmerman, who, for 
many years, was miller at Luquere's mill, were of this 
number, and are yet well remembered. The Prince of 
Hesse made money by their absence ; a Hessian lost to him 
was a clear gain— such being the terms of bargain and sale 
of that Princely Potentate with Royal George III., of 
England. It was a glorious bargain for all parties, save to 
King George, who had to pay expenses." 

On Bushwick avenue, near the north-east corner of 
that avenue and North Second street, was the old 
iJ-^adel house, now used as a grocery-store ; and several 
other old houses long remained in the immediate neigh- 
borhood of the church. North-west of the church and 
close to Bushwick creek was the residence of Abram 
Van Ranst, a lieutenant of the Kings County Militia, 
who fled, with his family, to Harlem, at the time of the 
battle of Brooklyn. His house became the head-quar- 
ters of Mr. Pherson's corps of refugees and tories. 

Set Kivis Padt, or the Cross-roads, on Bushwick 
avenue, between Johnson and Adams streets, long re- 
tained several of the old houses which clustered there 
in the olden time. 

The inhabitants residing along the water-side {Ilet 
Strand of the olden day) at the close of the Revolution, 
were Martin Kershow, David Miller, Charles Titus, 
Andrew Conselyea, Thomas Skillman, Francis Titus, 
William Bennett and John Titus. Speaking of the 
Titus family, John M. Steaens, Esq., says : 

"But as we passed northerly along the shore, we came to 
an ancient tavern, since fronting on First street, just south 
of Grand, on land conveyed to Francis Titus by Isaac 
Meserole, prior to 17.'58. By whom this celebrated public 
house, known for generations as the 'Fountain Inn,' was 
built, I do not know. Its site was devised by Francis Titus 
to his son, Charles, who was known as old ' Charlum Titus,' 
and who kept this place for many years. Of a Saturday 
night, the settlers usually gathered around its bar, and con- 
tributed to a weekly carousal, and bacchanal songs, such as 
should have startled the sensibilities of a Christian people. 

As a general result, in less than half a century, three-fourths 
of the farms in town had changed hands through the ruin 
wi-ought by the influence of the Fountain Inn. Passing this 
noted inn, our pathway leads past the old Titus Homestead, 
where the Francis Tituses, for three generations, lived and 
died. Here we pause to relate an incident illustrative of 
human gratitude and human selfishness. Tennis Mauritz 
Covert died at Slonmouth, N. J., seized of the land since 
known as the old Titus Homestead, many years previous to 
1719. Francis Titus had married his widow, and brought up 
his children. The eldest son, Teunis Covert, under the laws 
then prevailing, was the sole heir of this farm, to the exclu- 
sion of all his father's younger children. On the 16th of 
May, 1719, this Teunis Covert makes a deed of this farm to 
Francis Titus, his 'loving father-in-law,' for his care and 
expense in bringing up the grantor and his father's other 
children ; and then described the home and farm as occupied 
by the grantee, containing fifty-eight acres, &c. This land 
continued in the possession of Titus for over thirty years, 
but the generous step-son was not remembered in the step- 
father's will, made some thirty years afterwards. Devising 
a large estate to the testator's own children, to wit: Francis, 
Charles, Jan, Johannes and Titus Titus, and charging there- 
on legacies to his daughters, Antie, Hellena, Elizabeth, 
Janetje, Hyeotte and Christina, reservmg an estate for life 
or during widowhood, to his wife, Elizabeth — yet, his step- 
children are all forgotten ; and this Elizabeth he turns out 
to poverty if she marries again. The step-son, who gen- 
erously gave up his estate, an inheritance from his ancestors, 
received not even an honorable mention when the recipient 
of his benefaction made his last eartlily preparation for his 

Pursuing our way .along the East River shore, we come to 
the old homestead of the Wortmans, who, for nearly a 
hundred years, had an honorable name among the denizens 
of Bushwick, and only ceased to be mentioned as leading 
citizens about 1780. This old homestead is now represented 
by a more modern domicile near Bushwick creek and Second 
street, on property now of General Samuel I. Hunt. The 
farm originally had ninety-six acres, some forty acres of the 
western part having passed to one William Laytin, and by 
him was sold to Francis Titus, mentioned above. The 
remainder was owned by one William Bennett, and was 
devised by him to his son William, as to the northwestern 
part, and to Jacob Bennett, as to the southeasterly part. 
The former passed to William Vail, and through him to the 
wife of Samuel I. Hunt ; the latter was afterward known 
as the farm of Frost, O'Handy, Butler and Sinclair." 

Subsequently, but prior to 1798, were erected the 
houses of Peter Miller and Frederic Devoe. In 1798, 
also, William Van Cotts resided at the Sweede's Fly. 
One by one, however, these old farm-houses have dis- 
appeared before long rows of modern brick dwellings. 

The Boerum House, on Division avenue, between 
Broadway and Kent avenue (see cut on next page), 
and the Remsen house, on Clymer street, near Kent 
avenue, long remained as mementoes of the past. 

Old Bushwick Mills — both tide m\\\s.—Luqueer''s 
(later known as M.ister's), erected in the year 1664, 
by Abraham Jansen, who received a grant of the 
mill-site and privileges, was, with the exception of 
Brewer's mill, on Gowanus creek, the first established 
in the present city of Brooklyn. It stood on a branch 
of Maspeth (Newtown) creek, near the junction of 


olas Wyckoff himself. The old road from John Eden's 
store on Metropolitan avenue around its junction with 
Newtown and Brooklyn retains its Knickerbocker 
aspect with singular tenacity ; the more wonderful 
because the road is a frequented thoroughfare, but 
traffic glides past in silence and respects the repose of 
houses formerly much disturbed by the military tramp 
of the Revolution." Sixteen head-stones occupy the 
Schenck Cemetery ; the i-emaining inscriptions are pre- 
served in Stiles' History of Brooklyn, ii, 378, but 
more particularly in a valuable article, by Wm. O'Gok- 
MAN, Esq., Town Clerk of Newtown, in L. I. Weekly 
Star for January 14, 1881. 

The 2ihysician of old Bushwick was Dr. Cornelius 
Lowe, who enjoyed the practice of Bushwick, New 
Lotts and a part of Newtown. He was an ardent 
patriot, unmarried, boarded with Alexander Whalley 
and died about 18.30. He was succeeded by Dr. 

George Cox, who 
boarded in the Rev. 
Dr. Basset's family, 
removed to Wil- 
liamsburgh after it 
became a village, 
and became con- 
nected by marriage 
with the Miller 

since the Revo- 
lution. — Isolated 
by its peculiar posi- 
tion between New- 
town and Bushwick 
creeks, and occu- 
pied only by a 
few large farms, 
Geeenpoint, or 
" Cherry-Point," as 
it was formerly 
called, may be said to have enjoyed an almost sepa- 
rate existence from the rest of the old township of 
Bushwick. It contained, during the Revolutionary 
period, and for years after, only five (Dutch) families, 
each having its own dwelling-house, its own farm, and 
its own retinue of jolly negroes in field and kitchen. 

On the shore of Newtown creek, on present Clay 
street, between Union and Franklin avenues, resided 
Jacob Bennett, whose father, then quite an old man, 
ment in the primitive times, when the Newtown tide- 1 owned and lived upon a farm on the opposite side of 
water ebbed and flowed to the boundary of the little I the creek, which he subsequently gave to his son-in- 
plot ; but now the rail-track bounds the cemetery on law, Mr. Hunter, from whom it derived its present 
the one side, and the gas-lamps of Brooklyn illuminate | name of Hunter'^s Point. 

it by night ; evidences of modern habits quite incon- 1 Some years after the war, another Bennett house was 
sistent with the notions of those who spent their quiet [ erected near the present bridge, and was subsequently 
lives to the sound of the old Schenck mill — the site of I sold to a Yankee by the name of Griflin; but this, like- 
which K hardly in the traditions of the venerable Nich- 1 wise, has disappeared before the march of improvement. 

Grand street and Metropolitan avenue. " A few years 
since," says Mr. T. W. Field, " there was no more 
striking scene near the metropolis than the view at this 
point. As the road to Jamaica struck the marsh, a 
rude bridge, with the most fragile railing which ever, 
deluded a tired passenger to lean against it, crossed a 
narrow strait in the mill-pond. A few rods to the left 
stood an unpainted hovel dignified with the name of 
the Mill, against the side of which, and dwarfing it by 
comparison, hung suspended the gigantic wheel. Close 
to the bridge stood another tenement whose meaner 
appearance made the mill-house respectable. This was 
the toll-house, one of a class of structures which are 
only less universally detested than the quarantine and 
the pest-house. Across the broad level marsh, nearly a 
mile in width, rose the hills of Newtown, covered with 
their tall forests, amid which,here and there,open spaci s 
of cultivated lands checkered the green expanse with 
squares of brown 
earth or crops of 
various colors. 
Through the green 
salt - meadow, the 
slumbrous tide-wa- 
ter currents wound 
their unseen cours- 
es; and, in the midst 
of the verdure, rose 
the broad sails of 
vessels, which ap- 
peared as incongru- 
ous with the green 
meadow as would 
a western prairie 
over which tall 
ships were sailing. 
A mile or more to 
the right, on an- 
other branch of 
Maspeth kill, stood 

another structure, known as Schenck^s mill, the site 
of which is only known by tradition, so completely 
have its ruins been concealed by alluvial deposits, 
swept by the rains from the cultivated fields around." 
Near at hand, behind the house of Mr. Nicholas 
WyckofP, was still the little burying-ground where 
slept all of that name who heard the clatter of the 
mill and the splash of the sluggishly turning wheel. 
The Schencks were of old Bushwick, from its settle- 




On the edge of the meadows near the north-east 
corner of the present Oakland and Freeman streets, on 
premises since owned by James W. Valentine, stood 
the old Provoost dwelling, which was the original Capt. 
Peter Praa house. 

On the river bank, between India and Java streets, 
was the old Abraham Meserole house; which was 
originally built more than one hundred and sixty years 
since, although the western part of it was added about 
1775. John A. Meserole, a descendant of the original 
proprietor and a Revolutionary patriot, had possession 
of the place at the time of the Revolution. A troop 
of Hessians were quartered in the house, and made 
free with all the live stock on the farm, except one 
cow, which the family hid in the woods, in a nook since 
occupied by S. D. Clark's grocery store. A building 
known as the Baisley house was afterward erected on 
this estate, on the present Huron street, near Franklin. 

On Colyer street, near and east from Washington, 
stood the house of old Jacobus Colyer, the worthy 
ancestor of all of that name in this vicinity. 

The last of the series of these originals was the resi- 
dence of Jacob Meserole, near Bushwick creek, on 
Lorimer street, near Norman avenue. 

These five buildings, with their barns and barracks, 
and the old slate-enclosed poioder -house, below the hill 
(on the spot since covered by Simonson's ship-yard, and 
which was afterwards removed as an undesirable 
neighbor), constituted the whole of Greenpoint settle- 

Cherry Point was almost isolated because of a pecu- 
liar lack of facilities for communication with the outer 
world. The only road, from there to any place, began at 
old Abraham Meserole's barn, ran diagonally across, 
north-east to the east end of Freeman street, then past 
the Provoost premises,then south toWillow Pond,thence 
along the meadow to the Cross-roads, and from that 
point to Wyckoil's woods, so to old Bushwick church 
" round Robin Hood's barn " to Fulton Ferry, where the 
wearied traveler embarked in a ferry-scow for Coenties 
slip, at the city, and was thankful if he arrived there in 
safety, it being a little more than he had reason to expect. 
As for going to Astoria, it has been described as 
being something like taking a journey to the Moon ; 
there being no road thither, until the erection of the 
Penny-bridge, in 1796, which let the people out into 
the mysteries of the island, and left them to feel their 
way around in' the woods to Astoria. Each farmer, 
however, owned his boat with which he conveyed pro- 
duce to the New York market; and, for all practical 
purposes of intercommunication with each other or 
with their friends in Newtown, Bushwick or Brooklyn, 
they used the boat much more frequently, perhaps, 
than the road. 

The modern history of Greenjpoint dates from the 
year 1832, when Neziah Bliss, in connection with Dr. 
Eliphalet Nott, purchased some thirty acres of the 

John G. and Peter Meserole farm. In 1833, he bought 
the Griffin farm; and in 1834 he caused the whole of 
Greenpoint to be laid out in streets. In 1838 he built 
a foot-bridge across Bushwick creek. At about the 
same time the Point was re-surveyed, and the Ravens- 
wood, Greenpoint, and Hallet's Cove turnpike was in- 
corporated. This road, which was opened in 1839, ran 
along Franklin street, and was subsequently continued 
to Williamsburgh. Although, even as late as 18.53, this 
road was not graded, it proved to be the opening door 
to the growth of Greenpoint. 

The first house-builder was John Hillyer, the mason, 
who boldly broke ground in the field on India street, in 
November, 1839; the edifice, a substantial brick one, be- 
ing sufficiently completed to admit of his occupying it 
with his family, in June of the following year. A few 
months after, Mr. Brightson commenced building on 
two lots in Java street, and almost simultaneously, three 
other buildings were begun, viz.: a building, which 
afterwards became an inn, well remembered by the 
oldest inhabitants of Greenpoint as Poppy Smith's 
tavern ; the residence of Mr. Archibald K. Meserole, 
on the hill, north side of Eagle street, between Frank- 
lin and Washington streets; and the store-house, after- 
wards Vogt's paint shop, built by Cother cfc Ford for 
A. K. Meserole. 

From this time buildings increased so rapidly as to 
defy the most active historian to keep track of their 

Many of these houses stood up on stilts, bearing 
very much the appearance of having been commenced 
at the roof and gradually built do\vnward, a sufficient 
number of stories being appended to reach the ground. 
This style of building, peculiarly characteristic of 
Greenpoint in the earlier days, obtained mostly on the 
locality known by the people of that day as " the Or- 
chard," and, also, in Java, Washington and Franklin 
streets, and was rendered necessary by the extreme 
depth of the mud, always the great drawback of the 

Trade at Greenpoint commenced in the store-house 
above spoken of. David Swalm succeeded the first 
tradesman here. 

A coal-yard was opened at the foot of Freeman 
street, on the East River, at the projection of the shore 
which originally gave Greenpoint its name. This 
establishment was purchased, in 1849, by Abraham 
Meserole, who transferred the business to the corner 
of Java and Franklin streets ; and the yard was 
speedily followed by other lines of industry, and by 
various manufactories. 

A Union Sabhath-school was established in the au- 
tumn of 1845, under the superintendence of William 
Vernoon; and sessions were held at various places in 
the village. The Episcopalians commenced here in 
1846. The Methodist, Baptist, and Dutch Refoi-med 
denominations commenced their distinctive church or- 


ganizations in 1847, and were followed by the Univer- 
salists and Roman Catholics in 1855. 

The profession of medicine was first represented in 
Greenpoint by Dr. Snell, from Herkimer county, N. 
Y., who settled here in 1847. He was followed in 
1850 by Dr. Job Davis, and he, in turn, by Doctors 
Peer and Hawley, Heath, Wells, and others. 

The first magistrate and constable were appointed 
about 1843. 

Mrs. Masquerier, in 1643, opened the first school. 
This good woman's ministrations were finally sup- 
planted by the public-school system; and in 1846, a 
school-house was erected on the hill east of Union ave- 
nue, between Java and Kent streets, and which was 
first presided over by Mr. B. R. Davis. This was the 
commencement of School No. 22. 

In 1850 a ship-yard •wa.f. established by Mr. Eckford 
Webb (since Webb & Bell) ; and the first vessel con- 
structed was a small steamer called the Honda, which 
was made to ply upon the Magdalena river of South 
America. Since that day he has constructed many 
vessels. Other ship-yards were established, until ten 
or twelve were at one time in active operation, turning 
out every variety of craft, from the humble skiflf to 
the largest wood and iron steamers. 

In September, 1852, the Francis' Metallic Life-Boat 
Company was incorporated, with a capital of $250,000, 
and erected a large and commodious factory. They 
had a successful career, until the repeal, by Congress, 
of that section of the steamboat law respecting life- 
boats, when the demand fell off, and, so did the com- 

The ferry between the foot of Greenpoint avenue 
and the foot of Tenth street, New York, was estab- 
lished, in 1852, by Neziah Bliss, and soon afterwards 
transferred to Mr. Shepard Knapp. Previously, all 
water communication with New York had been by skiffs, 
at a charge of four cents per passenger. 

In 1853 the Greenpoint Oas Light Gompa^iy was in- 
corporated, with a capital of $40,000, and a patronage 
at the outset of twenty-six customers. In the summer 
of 1854, what was projected as the Greenpoint and 
Flushing plank-road was first used. The intended ter- 
mini of this road were the Greenpoint ferry and a 
point on the Astoria and Flushing railroad, half a mile 
from the latter place. By reason of the opposition of 
some Dutch farmers along the proposed route the road 
was not completed according to the original design; 
but united with the Williamsburgh and Newtown road 
at the end of Calvary cemetery. 

(The history of Greenpoint, subsequent to 1864, is 
included with that of the consolidated city of Brook- 


Arbitration Rock. — We have thought desirable to 
place in permanent form, by re-producing it in these 
pages, the substance of a very infieresting article by 
William O'Gorman, Esq., the antiquarian town-clerk, 

of Newtown, published originally in the Long Island 
Weekly Star, concerning this historic land-mark be- 
tween Old Bushwick and its neighbor, Newtown. 

"Arbitration Rock " marked the final end of that 
famous fight between Newtown and Bushwick, which 
raged with unabated fury, from the days of Governor 
Stuyvesant, in 1660, to 1769. Stuyvesant loved Bush- 
wick. He hated Newtown. He bequeathed a legacy 
of rancor to the two towns ; but he also opened up a 
field on which all the brave sons of either town could 
display their determination to defend their boundary 

In Governor Cornbury's time the dispute between 
Newtown and Bushwick had waxed hot and furious to 
a white heat. It suited the Governor to a charm. He 
" saw " twelve hundred acres in it — he " discovered 
sinister practices," he realized " pernicious conse- 

The Bushwick men claimed that their boundary 
(extended to the straight line which ran from the 
Old Brook School to the northwest corner of Ja- 
maica. The Newtown men claimed that their bound- 
ary . ran from the " Arbitration Rock " to the same 
point ; or more clearly to be understood — the New- 
town men claimed up to the present dividing line 
between Newtown and Brooklyn, where the city lamps 
shine on old Mrs. Onderdonk's house. 

It is a long walk on a hot day from the Old Brook 
School to Mrs. Onderdonk's house beyond Metropolitan 
avenue : the longer it was, the more acres it would 
give to Lord Cornbury, the Governor of the province. 
The evidence was very conflicting between Newtown 
and Bushwick. The boundary line oscillated between 
them like a pendulum, from the arbitration rock to the 
Old Brook School, and so for years it had vibrated 
back and forward, but fastened to the same suspension 
point on the East New York hills in the Cemetery of 
the Evergreens. It was a large gore of land, and con- 
tained 1200 acres of land for Lord Cornbury. There 
were riots between the Bushwick men and the New- 
town men, and some houses were burnt and some 
houses were torn down. Governor Lord Cornbury, of 
all men, hated " anarchy ;" and he considered it to be 
the duty of an impartial Governor to remove the cause 
of such anarchy. He decided that the gore lot of 1200 
•acres belonged neither to Bushwick, nor to Newtown. 
He also decided that the tract of 1200 acres belonged to 
himself, the Lord Cornbury. 

He was surrounded by a body of able counselors — 
Arma Bridgens, Robert Millwood, William Huddle- 
stone, Adrian Hoogland, and of course Peter Praa — 
Peter Praa from Greenpoint, always keen after real 
estate ; and among these disinterested persons, or in- 
struments, in vulgar eyes, the Governor divided the 
1200 acres of Ne^vtown land. Newtown, at this un- 
expected juncture, had need of trustworthy men, and 
on the 6th of May, 1706, the township vested all their 



powers of defence in Richard Alsop,* Joseph Sackett, 
Thomas Stevenson and William Hallett. This law- 
suit lasted twenty years, and the Town House and all 
the public lands of the township had to be sold to fee 
the la-svyers, a useful precedent for future Newtown 
officials who may have to carry on law-suits. The re- 
sult of that law-suit was not decisive ; the boundary 
line between Newtown and Bushwick remained un- 
decided until the 7th day of January, 1769, on which 
day the dividing line was run out to the full satisfac- 
tion of Newtown, and so remains to the present day. 

What became of the grantees after Lord Cornbury's 
recall is not positively known ; Newtown fought them 
under the name of the " Faucouniers " from 1712 to 
1727, in a suit in which Richard Alsop and John Coe 
were plaintiffs on behalf of Newtown. Peter Praa, of 
Greenpoint, had sold out his patent two days after it 
was granted. Peter was too sagacious to trust to such 
titles ; but the name of Bridgens, true to its instincts, 
broke out again in 1873, as a plaintiff in the celebrated 
ejectment suit against the property owners of Laurel 
Hill, so sensationally got up by Weston, the walker. 
In the columns of the Sun he had provided an old 
oaken chest with an ancient will in it, both of which 
little adjuncts made up a little romance only to be 
spoiled by the fact of the same will having been in 
printed form for twenty-five years previously, and con- 
tinuously in every house on Laurel Hill. So history 
repeats itself. 

The following report terminated the dispute of a 
century : 

'■ Pursuant to an act of the Governor, Council and General 
Assembl}', appointing John Watts, William NicoU and Wil- 
liam NicoU, Jr., Esquires, or the major part of them, or the 
survivor or survivors of them, Commissioners to run out and 
ascertain a line of division between the Counties of Kings 
and Queens, as far as the townships of Bushwick and New- 
town extend :— We, the said Commissioners, having called 
the parties before us, and duly heard and considered their 
several proofs and allegations, do adjudge and determine 
that the Division Line aforesaid, shall be and begin at the 
mouth of Maspeth Kills, or creek, over against Dominie's 
Hook, in the deepest part of the creek, and so run along the 
same to the west side of Smith's Island, and so along the 
creek on the west side of that island to ash up a bra,\ch 


THE 'Arbitration Rock,' and marked N. B., a httle west- 
ward of the house of Joseph Woodward ; and from said 
rock running south twenty-seven degrees, east to a heap of 
stones with a stake in the middle known by the name of the 
'Arbitration Heap ; ' and from thence in the same direct 
line up the hills or mountains until it meets the Hne of 

* In this connection we cannot but allude to a series of exceedingly 
interesting papers, by Mr. O'Gorman in the L. I. Weekly Star, of 
March and April, 1880, on the Alsop Family, of Newtown, whose 
ancient mansion, rich in Colonial and Revolutionary history, stood on 
the edge of Newtown Creek, near the Penny Bridge. It was de- 
molished In October, 1871), and its site, as, also, that of the Alsop 
family burylng-ground, is now within Calvary Cemetery grounds. 

Flatbush, as the same is described by the survey and card 
hereunto annexed. 

In witness whereof, we have liereunto set our bands and 
seals this lOth day of January, Anno Domini, 1760. 

John Watts. 


Sealed in presence of us, W. Wickham, John S. Koome." 

The Annals of N&otovm tells us that the survey was 
performed, January 7th, by Francis Marschalk, and 
thus describes the boundaries : 

'• Beginning at a certain rock, commonly called the 
Arbitration Rock, marked N. B. ; said rock lies N. 16 de- 
grees 3 minutes W. 4 chains 50 links from the northerly 
comer of the house, formerly the house of Frederick Van 
Nanda, and now in possession of Moses Beigle ; running 
from said rock S. 27 degrees E. 155 chains to a noted heap 
of stones, with a stake in the middle, known by tlie name 
of 'Arbitration heap," and from thence in the same direct 
line up the hill or mountain until it meets the line of Flat- 

The Woodioard Souse still stands in the same good 
preservation that Lord Cornwallis left it in the Revo- 
lution ; and the Beegel House is occupied by the Onder- 
donk family. 

After the Revolution Mr. Ilendrick Beegel made 
another survey of the line, and in 1837, during the Su- 
pervisorship of Mr. DeBevoise, the line was again run 
over and monuments erected over its entire length. 

The late Mr. Nicholas Wyckofif, President of the First 
National Bank of Brooklyn, in 1880, made a proposi- 
tion to the Commissioners appointed to re-survey the 
boundary line between Kings and Queens Counties ; to 
" replace, at his own expense, by a monument to be ap- 
proved of by the Commissioners, the old 'Arbitration 
Rock,' once of such importance, but blown to pieces by 
some parties ignorant of its historic and trigonometrical 
value as a ' Bench Mark ' in the survey of the base line 
between Kings and Queens Counties." 

A note in Riker's Annals, page 171, has led its read- 
ers into a labyrinth of confusion, and they have propa- 
gated the error far and wide — as the Annals of New- 
town is a standard work every way worthy of its repu- 
tation for research and accurate details. The note 
reads : 

" This house is that now occupied by Mrs. Onderdonk. 
Arbitration Rock has disappeared. It stood in the meadow 
lying opposite this house, on the other side of the road, and 
early in the present century was blown to pieces, and re- 
moved by individuals who probably knew not its value as an 
important land-mark." 

In fact, however, the Arbitration Rock is as intact 
and sound as when the commissioners and surveyors 
were vociferating around it in January, 1769. 

"On November 19th, 1880, another group of excited 
men, the late Nicholas Wyckoif, Peter Wyckoff and 
Wm. O'Gorman, stood around the same old rock watch- 
ing its discovery by Martin G. Johnson, Surveyor. Mr. 
Johnson had found the old rook, from which he had 
started his own survey in 1850, when he had com- 



menced to lay out the streets and blocks of Bushwick, 
and mark their position with the stone monuments, still 
existing in the ground, all over from Greenpoint, 
through all the limits of ancient Bushwick as contained 
in the several wards now incorporated into Brooklyn. 
Far off through all the fields Mr. Johnson determined 
his angles with the theodolite and measuring-chain ; from 
many distant points he defined the position of monu- 
ments long since ploughed over ; and, when he would 
call out that 'here is one,' or 'one ought to be here,' 
there was consequent excitement to dig down and see 
that his calculation was correct. And, indeed, a monu- 
ment was invariably found wherever the word was 
passed that one ought to be found. The same process 
through the fields revealed them in plenty ; but large 
trees had grown up since the monuments were set in 
. 18.50, and the face of nature had changed considerably 
since that time. But the trigonometrical work of the 
young surveyor still holds good and will be the perma- 
nent base-lines for all ages to old Bushwick, no matter 
what name will be granted her in the vicissitudes of 
time. " 

"Finally, the converging sights of the theodolite from 
all the monuments intersected each other on the time- 
honored head of the old Rock, and thus established its 
identity beyond question. The 'Arbitration Rock ' is 
therefore still in existence. " 

" The history of the fight between Newtown and 
Bushwick — a legacy bequeathed by old Governor Stuy- 
vesant — embraces the period included between 16.56 and 
1769. The territory included that gore-lot of country 
between the old Brook School at Maspeth and the 
Arbitration Rock beyond Metropolitan avenue, narrow- 
ing to a point toward the hills beyond Ridgwood. In 
that direction there is still some undefined trouble, and 
the Legislature of last year issued a commission to 
certain persons to settle it." 

Henry Boerutm.— Among the old Long Island names is 
that of BoERUM— a name which the citizens of Brooklyn 
have perpetuated in Boerum street, and Boeriim place. The 
emigrant of the family was a Hollander, and his descen- 
dants, for many generations, have been landed proprietors 
on the Island. His father, Jacob Boerum, married Adrianna 
Remsen. a daughter of William Remsen, at the Wallabout. 
They had eight childi-en— Henry being next to the youngest, 
born April 8, 1793. He passed the days of his boyhood on 
his fathers farm, and during the idle winter months, availed 
himself of the limited educational advantages afforded by 
the public schools of his time and locality. After he grew 
to man's estate, he managed the farm, which, at that time, 
meant hard work, as all the market truck had to be carried 
to the Wallabout in a wagon, then put in a row-boat, pulled 
across to tlie New York market, and sold out by measure as 
tiie hucksters now do. On November 21, 1827, he married 
Susan Rapelje, a daughter of Folkert Rapelje, at Cripple- 
busli, of the well-known family of that name, which has 
been prominently identified with Long Island almost from 
the date of its first settlement. May 1, 1828, he purchased 
from the executors of tlie estate of Folkert Rapelje sixty- 

two acres of land, being a part of the old Rapelje farm, at 
Cripplebush, for the sum of $7,000, on account of which he 
paid .$2,700— money which he received as a part of his wife's 
dowry — and gave a mortgage for the balance, $4,300. He 
was a hard worker and good manager; and, in October, 1834, 
he had paid off his indebtedness, tlie executors having given 
htm the privilege of paying on account of the principal 
when he paid his yearly interest. In 1835, during the great 
land speculation, the homestead farm was sold, by which he 
secured, as his part, several thousand dollars, which, together 
with his earnings, amounted, in 1842, to some $20,000. 
About this time, the bubble burst, taking away from him 
the greater part of his income. He also sold, in 1835, three 
and one-half acres of the Cripplebush farm for $3,500, with 
which he built the house now occupied by his son, F. Rapelje 
Boerum. In 1853, DeKalb avenue was opened, graded and 
paved through the farm, and Mr. Boerum began selling lots 
and making loans on the property to purchasers, enabling 
tliem to erect dwellings thereon. His policy toward pur- 
chasers was a liberal one, and resulted in the rapid develop- 
ment of that part of the city embraced within the limits of 
the Cripplebush farm, and indirectly to considerable con- 
tiguous property. Within the borders of the farm now 
stand some 500 or 600 houses. Mr. Boerum pursued a 
similar policy with respect to liis part of the old Boerum 
homestead, at Bushwick; and, it was mainly through his 
instrumentality that the section commonly called Dutch- 
town was buUt up and populated. In all matters of public 
interest he always took an intelligent and helpful part; and, 
although he was not, in the active sense, a politician, his 
judgment was often sought by those in authority, and he 
was many times asked to become a candidate for public 
honors ; but he almost invariably declined, though he served 
two terms as Assessor, and two as Alderman of the old 9th 
ward. He was, from time to time, connected with numerous 
well-known institutions, having been an organizer and 
director in the old Brooklyn Gas Company, the Mechanics' 
and City Banks, the Mechanics', Montauk and Atlantic 
Insurance Companies, and as stockholder in the Brooklyn 
Academy of Music, and the Brooklyn Athenaeum. Mr. 
Boerum had seven children ; a son and daughter died in 
infancy. F. Rapelje Boerum was born October 26, 1829, and 
now occupies the old homestead. He married Diana 
Remsen, May 26, 1868, and has three children living. Chartes 
died in boyhood. Susan was born February 22, 1835, and 
married Charles Vanderveer, deceased, and has three children. 
Adrianna, born November 27, 1836, married Charles Bush, 
and Agnes, born September 27, 1839, died October 24, 1875. 
Mr. Boerum was a man of plain, unostentatious manners 
and unquestioned integrity. His life was a busy one from 
boyhood, and terminated May 8, 1868. In a quiet way he 
did much good, was instrumental in developing a now 
important part of the city, and left the impress of his busi- 
ness capacity and high commercial honor on the times in 
which he lived. He was a friend and companion of the 
leading Brooklynites of the period during his manhood; and 
his name is inseparably linked with that part of the city 
within the borders of which he lived and died. When he 
passed away his death was sincerely regretted by a large 
circle of friends and acquaintances, and sucli honor was 
paid to his memory as was due to one who had long been an 
influential resident of the city. His wife died May 18, 1859, 
aged fifty-seven years. 

Hon. William Conselyea. — The subject of this article is 
a son of the late Judge Joseph and Ann (Hopper) Conselyea, 



and was bom in Bushwick, Kings county, N. Y., October 
12, 1804. 

Mr. Conselyea's early life was spent on his father's farm 
and in assisting his father in the milk trade, in which the 
latter was extensively engaged, and his educational advan- 
tages were limited to those afforded by the common schools 
of Bushwick. In 1835 he embarked in hotel-keeping at the 
corner of North Second street and Bushwick avenue, and, 
in 1840, removed to the corner of Grand and First streets, 
Williamsburgh, where he opened a wholesale and retail 
liquor store. In 1845, he assumed the proprietorship and 
management of a hotel at the corner of Bushwick and 
Flusliing avenues. During a portion of this period, and 
later, he was a well-known auctioneer until his removal to 
his present residence, 457 Bedford avenue, in 1870, since 
which time he has lived retired from active business. 

In 1840, Mr. Conselyea, who had, since his majority, been 
a consistent democrat of the old school, but never an 
aspirant for ofHce, was nominated for Member of Assembly 
from Kings county, but was defeated by the election of his 
uncle, WiUiam Conselyea 1st. In 1843, he was again nomi- 
nated for the same office, and was elected, and served until 
the expiration of his term. 

April 6, 1825, Mr. Conselyea was married to Anna Maria 
Griffin, daughter of A. Tabor Griffin, of Bushwick, who has 
borne him nine children, two of whom are living. After a 
happy union of fifty-eight years' duration, both Mr. and 
Mrs. Conselyea are in excellent health, considering their 
ages, and are looking forward to several years more of 
peaceful companionship. 

Hon. Adrian M. Suydam.— Jacob Suydam, grandfather 
of Adrian Marteuse Suydam, was born February 3, 1740, set- 
tled at Bushwick and married Elizabeth Leaycraft, April 
14th. 1764. He was a worthy and respected citizen, and 
died in Bushwick, July 27, 1811. His children, who attained 
mature age, were George, born June 20, 1767, who married 
Jane Voorhees, and died at Gravesend ; Gertrude, born June 
25, 1770, who married Adrian Martense : Jacob, who was 
born March 3, 1773, and married Cornelia Farmer, of New 
Brunswick, N. J., and Hendrick, who was born May 16, 
1778, and married Helen, daughter of John Schenck. 

Jacob Suydam, son of Jacob Suydam, was the father of 
Adrian Martense Suydam, and died August 31, 1847. Ad- 
rian Martense Suydam was born on the old Suydam home- 
stead, in Bushwick, where he has been a life-long resident. 

November 25, 1826, and is now tilhng a portion of the farm 
of his forefathers. 

Mr. Suydam's educational advantages were limited to 
those afforded by the district schools of his native town; and 
he early began to assist on the farm, a portion of which 
passed into his possession, in 1844, when he was only 
eighteen years of age, and which he has occupied continu- 
ously to the present time. 

January 5, 1852, Jlr. Suydam was married to Sarah G., 
daughter of Nicholas Wyckoff, who died in 1862, having 
borne him four children, only one of whom is now living. 

Mr. Suydam, having passed his lifetime thus far on the 
homestead of his family for generations before him, has 
seen many changes in his section of the city — of Brooklyn — 
and is, at this date, the only farmer, except one, living along 
the old Busliwick road, who has spent his days on the place 
on which he was born. 

In 1869, there was nc house on the Suydam farm, except 
the ancient residence of Mr. Suydam, out of which his 
grandfather was driven by the British during the Revolu- 
tionary war. During the year mentioned, Mr. Suydam, 
wishing to induce settlement in his neighborhood with a 
view to developing that section of the city, gave a man a 
lot on condition that he would at once erect and occupy a 
dwelling thereon : and, since then, his policy has been so 
liberal that, at the present time, there are no less than one 
hundred and twenty-five residences within the borders of 
the old homestead, bounded by Knickerbocker avenue, 
Vigelius street, Broadway and Palmetto street. Palmetto 
street. Woodbine street. Evergreen avenue. Ivy street and 
Central avenue have since been opened through the home- 
stead, and some of them are being rapidly improved. It 
was years after Sir. Suydam assumed control of his farm 
before there was any means of reaching the ferries, except 
by private conveyance, and he relates that he has seen men 
hunting on the site of the present City Park. 

In 1855, Mr. Suydam vras elected alderman from the 
eighteenth ward, and served one term. A few years later, 
he served a term as a member of the Board of Education. 
In the fall of 1873, he was elected a Member of the Assembly 
of the State of New York, and twice -re-elected, serving the 
terms of 1873, 1875 and 1877, during the administrations of 
Governors Dix, Tilden and Robinson, with credit to himself 
and to the satisfaction of his constituents. He is, at present, 
one of the trustees of Bushwick Savings Bank, and a 
director of the Williamsburgh City Fire Insurance Company 
and the Kings County Fire Insurance Company. 





( )f Brooklyn, E. D. 

After the close of the Revohitionary War, the 
farmers of Bushwick pursued in j^eace their oc- 
cupations of raising grain and cultivating gar- 
den vegetables for the New York market. But, ere 
long, upon the shores of the river which formed their 
western border, appeared the nucleus of a village; and, 
even while they rubbed their astonished eyes, it ex- 
panded to the fair proportions of a city. Instead of 
slowly amassing money by plodding labor and close- 
fisted huckstering, they found fortunes fairly thrust 
upon them by the enhanced value of their farms; due 
to the enterprise of others, whom they considered as 
Yankee intruders. They hesitated at first, dazzled by 
the prospect, and suspicious of the motives of those 
who offered it. Butjlnesse prevailed and the first pur- 
chase made — the rest was simply a matter of time. 

Richard M. Woodhull, a New York merchant, of in- 
telligent and comprehensive views, albeit somewhat 
speculative in his conclusions, was the pioneer in this 
movement. He had already established a horse-ferry, 
from Corlaer's Hook (near the foot of present Grand 
street. New York) to the foot of the present North Sec- 
ond street, in Brooklyn ; and the concentration of trade 
from Long Island, at this apology for a ferry, natu- 
rally suggested to him its probable occupation, to a 
limited extent, near the eastern terminus of the ferry, 
for a village. Had he reasoned from experience as to 
the growth of cities, he might have been deterred from 
this venture. New York City, which at the period of 
the Revolution had but 24,000 inhabitants, possessed at 
this time (1800) less than 61,000. There was, indeed, a 
highway from the settled parts of the city to Corlaer's 
Hook; but Chatham street was then the margin of the 
built up city, and the scattered farmsteads, shops and 
hotels along the Bowery were mere suburbs of the 
town. Had he stopped to consider that from thirty to 
forty years would be required to crowd three square 
miles of vacant lands with houses, and to occupy the 
De I.ancey and Willet farms with population, before 

his projected city on the opposite Long Island shore 
could become a practical success, he might have saved 
himself from infinite trouble and ultimate bankruptcy. 
True, he had a ferry established. But this could not 
accommodate the people whose employment was in 
New York. A horse-ferry, with two miles of travel on 
the New York side, before the business portion of the 
city could be reached, was to most persons a formida- 
ble objection to locating so far from their employment. 
But Woodhull was infatuated with his scheme; and, as 
he could not easily, in the then temper of the old 
Dutch residents, purchase the much-coveted land in 
his own name, he employed one Samuel Titus, of New- 
town, to secure the title from Charles (old " Charlum ") 
Titus of some 13 acres of his farm, which he after- 
wards re-purchased from the said Samuel Titus, at 
cost. This land, situated in the vicinity of North Sec- 
ond street (then called Bushwick street) was soon laid 
out by Mr. Woodhull in city lots, and named Wil- 
Uamsbxirgh, in compliment to his friend. Col. Williams, 
U. S. engineer, by whom it was surveyed. A shanty 
ferry-house and a tavern near by, were erected; one 
Lewis bought some lots and put up a hay-press and 
scales near the present North Third and First streets, 
where it was intended to bale the hay-crop of Long 
Island for shipment and the New York market; and an 
auction was held, at which a few building-lots were 
disposed of. But the amount realized came far short of 
restoring to Woodhull the money he had thus prema- 
turely invested. His project was, fully, a quarter of 
a century too soon. It required half a million of peo- 
ple in the city of New York, before settlers could be 
induced to remove across the East river, away from 
the attractions of a commercial city. Woodhull found 
that notes matured long before he could realize from 
his property; and barely six years had passed before 
he was a bankrupt, and the site of his new city became 
subject to sale by the sheriff. By divers shifts, the ca- 
lamity was deferred until September 11th, 1811, when 
the right, title and interest of Richard M. Woodhull in 


the original purchase, and in five acres of the Francis 
J. Titus estate, purchased by him, in 1805, near Fifth 
street, was sold by the sheriff, on a judgment in favor 
of one Roosevelt. James H. Maxwell, the son-in-law 
of WoodhuU, became the purchaser of Williamsburgh; 
but not having means to continue his title thereto, it 
again passed under the sheriff's hammer — ^although a 
sufficient number of lots had, by this time, been sold to 
prevent its re-appropriation to farm or garden pur- 
poses. WoodhuU and Maxwell's experience was that 
which is common to men who think in advance of their 
times; but they will ever be mentioned with respect as 
the "fathers of the town." 

The Morrell Speculation — Yorkton. — Mean- 
while, another rival was in the field, Thomas Morrell, 
of Newtown, who had purchased from Folkert Titus 
the ancient Titus homestead farm of 28 acres; and who, 
with James Hazard, to whom he sold a moiety, had 
laid it out in city lots, and had a map made of the 
same, whereon Grand street was laid down as a divid- 
ing line. Morrell then, in 1812, obtained from the city 
of New York a grant for a ferry from Grand street. 
Bush wick, to Grand street, New York; the same point 
to which Woodhull's ferry also ran. Yorkton was the 
somewhat pompous name given to the territory along 
the river, between South First and North Second 
streets; and Loss' map of Yorkton was dignified to 
the position of a public record. The Morrell ferry 
gradually superseded Woodhull's in the public estima- 
tion, so that both owners became rivals; and disputes 
ran so high between them that they would not permit 
each other's teams to pass over their respective lands, 
' — all this tended to retard the progress of the village. 
Grand street became the permanent site of the ferry ; 
and the old Titus homestead (on the north-east side 
of South First street), long known as " Old Charlum's " 
Fountain Inn, became the head-quarters of village poli- 
tics, where the destinies of town and county were often 
discussed, on winter nights, over hot flip and brandy 

But, while Morrell succeeded as to the ferry. Wood- 
hull managed to preserve the name Williamsburgh ; 
which applied at first to the 13 acres originally purchased, 
and had extended itself to adjoining lands, so as to 
embrace about 30 acres, as seen in Poppleton's map, in 
1814, and another in 1815, of jjroperty of J. Homer 
Maxwell. But the first ferry had landed at Williams- 
burgh, and the turnpike went through Williamsburgh 
out into the island. Hence, both the country people, 
and the people coming from the city, when coming to 
the ferry, spoke of coming to Williamsburgh. Thus 
Yorkton was soon unknown save on Loss' map, and in 
the transactions of certain land jobbers. Similarly, the 
designations of old farm locations, being obsolete to 
the idea of a city or a village, grew into disuse; and 
the whole territory between the Wallabout Bay and 
Bushwick Creek became known as Williamsburgh. 

Williamsburgh. — At the time the ferries were es- 
tablished, there was no open road to the water side, ex- 
cept that of the Newtown and Bushwick Bridge Co., 
which came to the shore at Woodhull's ferry. There 
was no oj)en shore-road connecting the two ferries, nor 
any from the Wallabout to Williamsburgh; for, blind 
to their own interests, the owners of the shore-land re- 
fused to have any road opened over their property 
along the shore. Consequently the ferries could not 
prosper, their cost exceeded their income, and both 
owners died in embarrassed circumstances, and with 
blighted hopes. Subsequently, the ferries were con- 

The Wallabout and Newtown Turnpike.^ 
While WoodhuU (and his successor) and MorreU were 
at variance about towns and ferries. Gen. Jeremiah 
Johnson had purchased the farm of Charles Titus, 2d; 
and in his goings to and fro between his farm and Wil- 
liamsburgh, became much annoyed at having to open 
and shut no less than 17 barred-gates, within a distance 
of half a mile along the shore.* His proposition to 
the owners of these lands to unite with him in securing 
a legislative act for the opening of a two-rod road, 
along the front of their property from the Wallabout 
Bridge to the Newtown and Bushwick Bridge road at 
Woodhull's ferry, was not only declined, but strenu- 
ously opposed. Whereupon, taking the matter in his 
own hands, he himself surveyed the proposed road, 
gave due notice of application, got up a petition, and 
by jjersonal interest at Albany secured the required 
authority — and, within a month the road was opened 
by commissioners of the two towns. The effect was 
magical; for, before this there had been no means of 
vehicular travel with Brooklyn, except by the New- 
town road from the Bushwick Cross - Roads. Now 
the business largely increased at the ferry, and public 
attention began to be drawn more than ever to the 
many advantages of residence afforded by Williams- 
burgh. For, situated as it was, opposite the very heart 
of New York city; with a bold water-front upon the 
East river of a mile and a half extent (entirely under 
the control of its own local authorities) ; with a suffi- 

* In this connection we quote, from a MSS. lecture by Mr. Barnes, on 
the Wallabout, the following description of the *' old-time " route from 
Gen. Johnson's place, corner Kent avenue and Hewes street, to East 
New York: "travel up the farnt-lane (Hewes street) some distance be- 
yond the present Lee avenue church, thence south-easterly along the 
farm to the then woods, across the creek to Nostrand's lane, and up this 
lane (near the site of Husted & Co.'s brick stables) on Flushing avenue, 
then south-east to land of Henry Boerum, thence southerly to Bedford, 
then along old Bedford road, facing to the south of Fort Greene to 
Baker's Tavern on Long Island railroad to Fulton street ; then a road 
or lane, to the ferry, six miles away— a journey of two or three hours. 

This, however, was short, compared with the distance from the late 
Abm. Remsen's house (adjoining Scholes farm, and but one beyond 
Gen. Johnson's). This family had to travel up their farm line to the 
church at Bushwick, thence along tlie Bushwick road to the Cross- 
Roads, and along Cripplebush road to residence of J acobus Lott, where 
Nostrand's lane intersects the road, and then along the Cripplebush 
road and Bedford road, past Fort Greene to Baker's Tavern on Long 
Island railroad, and to Fulton street, and so to the ferry— ten miles 
and taking four or five hours." 


cient depth for all ordinary commercial purposes; and 
with the ground rising gradually from the river to the 
height of about forty-five feet above water-level, it 
seems as if, on the whole, Nature had designed the ter- 
ritory for the site of a city. 

Village Beginnings. — The village grew apace ; 
the M. E. Church (organized 1807) erected, in 1808, the 
first place of worship ; the North American Hotel was 
built about the same time ; and by 1814 the town num- 
bered 759 persons. About 1819, a distillery was estab- 
lished at the foot of South Second street, by Noah 
Wateebury, whose enterprise has earned for him the 
appellation of the "Father of Williamsburgh." A 
native of Groton, Ct., he came, in 1789, at the age of 
fifteen, to Brooklyn, where he learned to be a shoe- 

At the age of twenty-one years, together with Henry 
Stanton, he took the Catherine Street Ferry; and, after 
carrying it on awhile, entered into the lumber trade, and 
subsequently established a rope-walk. He removed to 
Williamsburgh, in May, 1819, where he purchased from 
Gen. Jeremiah Johnson the half -acre of land on which, 
with Jordan Coles, he built the distillery above referred 
to. Subsequently purchasing eight adjoining acres, he 
laid it out in city lots ; gradually got into the real 
estate business ; frequently loaned money to the village 
in its financial embarrassments ; originated the City 
Bank, of which he became the first president; as also 
of the Board of Trustees of 1827; and, in many ways, 
promoted the welfare of the village. His life was one 
of enterprise, public spirit and high integrity. 

It was early found that the laws relating to common 
highways were entirely inadequate to the opening' of 
streets and other improvements needed by a village or 
city. If the plan had been adopted of opening all 
streets by common taxation, improvements might have 
been effected; and, in the end, their expense would have 
been equitably apportioned ; that is, when the whole 
village plot was improved alike and paid for. But, in 
this new community, every person wished his particular 
property improved, and had rather pay the expense 
than have such improvements deferred till the general 
public were willing to assume the special burden of 
such improvements. Mr. David Dunham, a merchant 
and citizen of New York, became interested in Wil- 
liamsburgh, by purchase at the Sheriff's sale, when the 
right, title and interest of James H. Maxwell (Wood- 
hull's son-in-law) were sold out on execution in favor of 
James J. Roosevelt; who continued to follow the pro- 
perty with his financial accommodations, until 1818 
brought the final extinction of the original pioneer in- 
terest of these two founders of the village. Dunham 
shared his purchase with Moses Jud.ah and Samuel Os- 
born ; established the first steam-ferry from New York 
to Williamsburgh ; and had his name applied to Grand 
street, as laid down on " Loss' Yorkton Map." But, 
though the street was soon widened ten feet on the 

north side, the new name would not stick. Graad 
street it was, and is to this day. 

In 1820, David Dunham, above named, donated land 
near North First street, on which a school-house was 
erected, known as District School No. 3, of the Town 
of Bushwick ; and the population of the town, includ- 
ing the village, was, at this time, 934, of which 182 were 
colored. In July of this year, an advertisement in the 
Lone/ Island Star announces a bear-shooting, at the 
Fountain Inn, which " the rifle companies of Major 
Vinton and Captain Burns are particularly invited to 
attend with their music. Green turtle soup to be ready 
on the same day, from 11 A. M. to 10 P. M." In Octo- 
ber, following, three persons were indicted at the Kings 
County General Sessions for hull-haiting at Williams- 
burgh ! which argues well for the moral sentiment of 
the new community. In 1823, the village sustained a 
severe loss in the death, by drowning, of Mr. David 
Dunham, " merchant and citizen of New York," whose 
efforts had " materially changed the appearance of 
Williamsburgh, and were adding constantly to its im- 
provements. The Williamsburgh Ferry and Turnpike, 
maintained by him, are real and lasting benefits to the 
city and to Long Island." " Never disheartened by 
disappointment, nor diverted from his object by indol- 
ence or opposition," he was justly considered "the 
friend and founder of the village." His ferry con- 
tinued to run ; manufacturers (especially of whisky or 
rum and ship-cordage) acquired something of a foot- 
hold in the place ; and there appeared one or more corner 
groceries and a village tavern, besides " old Charlum " 
Titus' Fountain Inn. In 1825, Garret and Grover C. 
Furman, New York merchants, purchased twenty-five 
acres on South First street, about 150 feet from what is 
now Grand, near corner of Second street, at ^300 per 
acre ; and had it mapped into city lots. They then 
offered the Dutch Reformed congregation their choice 
of a lot 100 feet square upon which to erect a church, 
which was accepted; then building-lots began to be 
enquired about in that neighborhood. The first two 
lots were sold to Dr. Cox for $150, after which they 
sold so fast that the price was advanced to $200, and 
in less than six months to $250, etc. 

Village Organization. — It was not long before the 
necessity of a village organization, with officers posses- 
sing the power to compel the opening and improving 
of streets, the digging of wells and the erection of 
pumps, and other public conveniences, and to restrain 
and limit the unneighborly selfishness or particular citi- 
zens, was made fully apparent. Moreover, no general 
survey of a village plot had been made; and the people, 
in public and private, began to discuss, and gradually 
to agree upon the need of a village charter. 

Village Charter. — Finally John Luther and Lemuel 
Richardson (or rather George W. Pittman), having 
purchased sites for two rope- walks between North Third 
and North Fourth streets, procured a survey of the ad- 



ji cent lands into street and lots, and made application 
to the legislature for an act which should confer upon 
the place the usual village powers. The desired act of 
incorporation was passed April 14, 1827, defining the 
village boundaries as " beginning at the bay, or river, 
opposite to the Town of Brooklyn, and running thence 
easterly along the division line between the towns of 
Bushwick and Brooklyn, to the lands of Abraham A. 
Remsen ; thence northerly by the same to a road or 
highway, at a place called Sweed's Fly, thence by the 
said highway to the dwelling-house, late of John Van- 
dervoort, deceased ; thence in a straight line northerly, 
to a small ditch, or creek, against the meadow of John 
Skillman ; thence by said creek to Norman's kill ; 
thence by the middle or centre of Norman's kill to the 
East river ; thence by the same to the place of begin- 
ning." The charter named five Trustees to serve till the 
time of the village election, viz : Noah Waterbury, 
Abraham Meserole ; Lewis Sanford, and Thomas T. 
Morrell ; also, John Miller, who declined serving ; 
which Board were duly sworn in April 26th, and or- 
ganized April 30th, by choosing Noah Waterbury, 
President ; Abraham Meserole, Secretary ; and Lewis 
Sanford, Treasurer. Their only noteworthy acts were 
the granting of several tavern licenses (the proceeds, 
$10 each, accruing to the poor of Bushwick), and pro- 
curing a survey of the village to be made by Daniel 
Ewen, for which $300 was raised by special tax. The 
first village election was held Nov. 5, 1827, and the old 
trustees were re-elected, by a nearly unanimous vote, 
except that Peter C. Cornell was elected in place of 
John Miller. The votes being one to six of the popu- 
lation gives 114 as the population of the village proper. 
While the new city fathers speedily evinced a com- 
mendable degree of enterprise in their efforts towards 
the improvement of the place, their wisdom was 
not altogether commensurate with their zeal. The 
charter itself lacked precision, in some respects, and its 
vagueness seems to have been often improved by the 
early trustees as a warrant for the exercise of extraor- 
dinary powers. This embroiled them in legal and 
political contentions with private owners of property, 
who, for the first time, became subject to municipal 
regulations. Thus, the attempt to open 1st street along 
the East River front between South 1st and South 2d 
streets, gave rise to a long and bitter lawsuit between 
Jordan Coles, as plaintiff, and the village, in which 
Coles was partly successful, but the open street re- 
mained in the hands of the public. Again, the Board, 
unwittingly, became the cats-paw of certain domestic 
speculators who rendezvoused at the old Fountain Inn, 
during the days of its decline, and these hatched 
schemes to possess themselves, under color of the law, 
of the parcels of land owned by non-residents and out- 
siders. By instigating taxation and assessment sales 
of these lauds, with and without law, they were enabled 
to purchase them " for a song," much to the detriment 

of the village, as it gave rise to much uncertainty as to 
land-titles. Yet the practice continued until probably 
10,000 lots were sold for non-payment of taxes or 
assessments, while there was not law enough in these 
assessment or tax-titles, under which to acquire or hold 
the lands. But thus were matters too often managed 
by those who " had the ear " of the little handful of 
trustees, who held their sessions in a small, wooden 
house, with its gable to 1st street, about 75 feet north 
of Grand ; wherein, also, was a tin and stove store, and 
the oflice of a Justice of the Peace. 

In January, 1829, the village had reached a. milestone 
in its career — it had a deht ! In February it had a 
post-office, Lewis Sanford, postmaster; in June, a hook 
and ladder company was formed ; and, during the year. 
North 3d and South 2d streets were built, and 1st street 
between Grand street and the Brooklyn line was opened. 
In 1829, a school census revealed these facts, that Wil- 
liamsburgh had a population of 1,007, including 72 
blacks ; 148 dwelling houses, including 10 stores and 
taverns ; 5 other stores; 5 rope-walks, 1 distillery ; 1 
turpentine distillery; 1 slaughter-house, and 2 butchers; 
3 lumber-yards ; 1 M. E. church ; 1 Dutch Reformed 
church ; 1 district and 3 private schools, etc., etc. In 
1832, a Methodist Protestant church was formed by 
secession from the M. E. church. In 1835, a census of 
the town of Bushwick (inclusive of Williamsburgh) 
gave a population of 3,314 ; and 2 distilleries, 4 rope- 
walks, and one grist-mill, vnth a total of $398,950 of 
raw material consumed, and $481,272 produced — all of 
lohich (except the grist-mill) loere within the village 
limits, as were, also, 3,000 of the population. This was 
exclusive of many smaller establishments, wood-yards, 
storehouses, etc., together with 72 village streets, of 
which 13 were opened, and about 300 houses. This year, 
also, the W. Gazette was started. These facts illus- 
trate the progress the village had made, despite the 
errors of its trustees, the machinations of land- 
jobbers, and the depressing failures of its first found- 
ers. And, encouraged by these facts, its inhabitants 
bestirred themselves to procure an enlargment of their 
charter and a sti'engthening of their corporate authority. 
On their application, a legislative act was passed, 
April 18, 1835, extending the village limits by adding 
all the present 16th Ward, of Brooklyn, from the 
Sweed's Fly Road to Bushwick avenue, and the present 
18th Ward, as well as a portion of the 18th Ward, 
between Humboldt street and the old Wood Point 
Road. The new charter created a Board of nine 
Trustees, to be annually elected, of which Edmund 
Frost was chosen President, and the energy and enter- 
prise of the new board soon inaugurated a new era in 
the history of the place. Several large and substantial 
wharves and docks were built, new avenues of trade 
opened by the construction of turnpikes, more streets 
laid out, and (against the strenuous opposition of New 
York) a new ferry established to Peck Slip, a move 


ni^Tonr of the town of williamsburgh. 

ment which, more than anything else, perhaps, contrib- 
uted to the increase of Williamsburgh's population and 
prosperity — adding, as it did, an inducement to many 
New Yorkers to locate their residences on some of the 
beautiful and eligible sites covering the eastern shore 
of the East River. 

The Era of Speculation.— Speculation had now 
o-rown to enormous proportions. In 1828, in addition 
to the " Williamsburgh " and " Yorkton " settlements, 
the Jacob Berry farm, of twenty-five acres, next to the 
East River and Brooklyn line, and the Frederick Devoe 
farm, of ten or twelve acres, extending from the river 
to 7th street and along South 5th and 6th streets, had 
been laid out in village lots and mapped. In 1833, one 
Holmes Van Mater, of New Jersey, liaving purchased 
the David Van Cott property, of twenty-four acres, 
extending from 6th street to the old Keikout road, near 
10th street, and from South 3d to Grand street, and for 
the space of a block to North 1st and beyond, between 
9th and 10th streets, including the "common" near 
9th and North 1st streets, had it mapped out into lots. 
John Miller had a map made of 11 acres, the north- 
erly half of the land, inherited from David Miller, his 
lather, being part of the old Keikout farm and of a 
piece of land extending from 7th to 10th streets, bought 
by David Miller of one Roosevelt. Maria Miller 
Meserole had the south half of the same land — mapped 
by the village and then in partition in 1849. 

Nearly all of the present Thirteenth and Fourteenth 
Wards of Brooklyn — the original chartered limits of 
^_ — ^as laid out into lots before 1834, when a general 
map of the village was made by D. Ewen, setting out 
the entire chartered village into prospective city lots. 
Prior to this Edmund Frost, Silas Butler, Charles 
O'Handy and William Sinclair had laid out twenty-five 
acres, extending from near North 2d street to North 
10th, and from 6th street to 9th street. Sharp and 
Sutphen had also seventeen acres laid out from North 
2d to North 7th, and from 3d to 6th street. These 
parcels were of irregular shape and matched to contig- 
uous lands by irregular lines. 

A company purchased several farms and combined 
them in a map of 939 lots of land in W., the title being 
vested for convenience of sale and the execution of deeds 
in one William P. Powers, a handsome, amiable and 
honest young man, who was law-clerk in the ofiice of 
John L. Graham, in New York. Powers also held title 
to one hundred and ninety-seven lots located between 
9th street and Lorimer sti-eet, and South 3d street and 
North 2d street, and lying on both sides of Union 
avenue; also, he held title to the Abraham Meserole 
farm, west of Graham Ave. 

The greatest rivals of Powers' associates were one 
John S. McKibben and Thomas Nicholls, and, associated 
with them as banker and friend, one George D. Strong. 
Nearly all the land south of the Meserole farm, held by 
Powers as above, to the Brooklyn line and the cross-roads, 

was purchased by McKibben, Nichols and Strong, and 
mapped into city lots, both upland and swamp. The 
only portion of what was made the third district of 
Williamsburgh, remaining to the original owners, was 
the part of the Meserole farm lying between Graham 
avenue and Bushwick avenue, the John Skillman 
farm, near North 2d street, to the northerly village line 
and to the meadows, and from Union avenue to near 
Leonard street — the land formerly of John Conselyea, 
deceased, afterward owned by Andrew J. Conselyea, as 
to part, and Mrs. D. W. Townsend and Mrs. Schenck 
as to other portions, and John Devoe as to land on the 
southerly side of North 2d street, from Lorimer street 
to Bushwick avenue. But all these several farms and 
lands were mapped as city property by their old farm- 
owners and put on the market in competition with the 
land-jobbers' stock-in-trade. The village had already 
assumed jurisdiction, under an act extending its limits, 
passed in 1835, and laid out the streets as they are now 

Such are the matter-of-fact details of the growth of 
the paper suburbs of our growing town. Its springs of 
life were hid away in the speculating haunts of New 
York city in dingy upper rooms of 142 Fulton 
street and No. 5 Nassau street, where often at mid-day 
and at early night-fall gathered those who thought 
there was something more than Kidd's money hid away 
in the meadows and uplands of the old town of Bush- 

At public and private sale large numbers of lots were 
disposed of, moneys were paid for margins and mort- 
gages were taken back for part of the purchase money 
to twice the intrinsic value of the property. All went 
merrily, the land-jobbers were reputed to have become 
wealthy, and their customers saw fortunes in their 
investments. And the pasture-lands and fields which 
then made uj) nine-tenths of the territory of Williams- 
burgh were clothed in the hopeful imaginings of the 
holders of lots with all the incidents of a busy, bustling 

During the year 1836, a company purchased the Con- 
selyea (formerly Daniel Bordet's) farm, together with 
an adjoining estate, traversed by the present Grand 
Street, laid it out (part of map of 939 lots), and erected 
thereon fourteen elegant first-class dwellings, designed 
to be the pattern houses of a new and model city. The 
advance in real estate and population was unprece- 
dented — lithographed property-maps set forth in glow- 
ing colors the unrivalled opportunities and advantages 
for profitable investments, which were eagerly caught 
up by the iminitiated, until by this time (1836) real 
estate in Williamsburgh actually exceeded its present 

The Period of Financial Collapse.— Finally the 
bubble burst, and in the crash which followed— known 
as the "General Commercial Crisis of 1837," Williams- 
burgh suffered deeply. A perfect business paralysis 


ensued, which seriously shattered the foundations of 
real and substantial property. Between cause and 
effect, intervening circumstances delayed the ultimate 
catastrophe to collateral investments; so that not until 
1839 or '40 did Williamsburgh fully realize that the 
prestige of her second founders was lost. The fourteen 
model dwellings were followed by no similar erections; 
here and there a half-finished building, abandoned by 
its owner, suggested the vanity of all human hopes; the 
noise of the axe and the hammer was stilled through- 
out the village. From 1840 to 1844, the Court of 
Chancei-y was fully busied in clearing away the rubbish 
of private bankruptcies from investments made in these 
lots, that they might stand discharged from judgments 
and liens in the hands of responsible capitalists, and in 
a condition for improvement. 

A New Start. — But, healthful legislation, and in- 
creasing facilities of access, gradually restored business 
to its wonted channels; so rapid was the jirogress of 
the village that in less than ten years, its population 
had doubled, and its ultimate position as a city became 
a fixed fact in the public mind. For, during the period 
(1835-1844) where political and financial history had 
been so unhappy, social, religious and educational ad- 
vantages had rapidly increased and helped to lighten 
the general gloom. In 1837, the EpiscoiKil Church was 
organized in the city; in 1838, the Williamsburgh Ly- 
ceum was established; in 1839, the Baptist denomina- 
tion gained a foothold. In 1840, the opening of the 
Houston Street ferry opened a convenient transit to 
residents employed in the great manufactories along 
the eastern water front of New York City; the village 
press was augmented by the advent (of the Williams- 
burgh Democrat; and the first omnibus line was estab- 
lished. The village census gave a population of 5,094. 
In 1841, the Roman fti^Ao/ic denomination established 
itself in the Dutch village neighborhood; and the Odd 
Fellows organized a branch. In 1842, the First Pres- 
byterian, and in 1843 the First Congregational Church 
was commenced; while during 1843-'44 the place be- 
came a favorite resort of the " Millerite," or Second 
Advent craze .In 1 844, an amended village charter was 
adopted, under which three trustees and one collector 
were chosen for each district. From this point, up to 
1850, the social, educational and literary interests of 
the village assumed more definite proportions and vigor; 
while the number of church organizations was rapidly 
increased in each of the denominations; and the Wil- 
liamsburgh Bible Society was formed. In 1848-'49, ap- 
peared the first Village Directory, published (as also 
the year following) by Henry Payson; and continued 

1850-5, up to by Samuel and T. V. Reynolds; the 

increase of population from 1845-1850 being 19,448. 
The year 1851 saw the establishment of the Williams- 
burgh Savings Bank; the Williamsburgh Dispensary; 
the Division Avenue Ferry, and three new churches. 

Civic Aspirations. — Williamsburgh now aspired to 

be a city. Several motives conspired to this result. 
The village government had often exercised doubtful 
powers, in matters of public improvement. Its several 
charters, subjected, as they were by the courts, to the 
strictest construction, were found to allow of too little 
discretionary power, to bo always available in emergen- 
cies which were constantly arising. Again, the village 
trustees being mostly men of limited business experi- 
ence, could not readily work up to a technical and 
strictly constructed law. It is due, however, to the old 
village trustees, to say that their carelessness, as to the 
provisions of the charter, oftener arose from an over- 
ambition to serve the public in its needed improve- 
ments of the village, than from any corrupt motives of 
personal profit. And, not infrequently, they found 
themselves, as a Board, involved in litigations initiated 
by the very persons who had petitioned for improve- 
ments, and whose property was benefited thereby, per- 
haps to even double the assessments charged to it for 
the expenses. An unwise fostering of the fire-department, 
for the sake of its political influence, also gave undue 
influence to the roiody element of the population, which 
soon showed itself in an increased turbulence of the 
town-meetings, at which alone legal taxes could be or- 
dered. This, with the impossibility of getting, in the 
town-meeting, a fair expression of the real public voice 
— since the meetings could be so "packed" as to leave 
nine-tenths of the village voters out on the sidewalk — 
led to legislation for the establishment of a Board of 
Finance, which should determine the amounts to be 
raised for specific objects and provide for their inser- 
tion in the tax levy. 

The City Charter. — Such a Board was created 
March 1, 1849, by act of Legislature, and consisted of 
the President and Trustees of the village, with the 
Town Supervisor and nine other men especially elected 
for the purpose. But this did not suffice; and finally, 
the required city charter, drawn by S. M. Meeker, Esq., 
Village Counsellor, received the sanction of the Legisla- 
ture, April 7, 1851 ; the election forcity officers washeld in 
November following, and the charter went into effect 
January 1, 1852. 

Street Nomenclature of the Village of Wil- 
liamsburgh. — The names of public streets frequently 
express fragments of local history. Some are only to 
be interpreted by traditions. Men who lay the foun- 
dations of a city, or map the locations so to be occupied, 
are apt to respect a scripture example, in calling their 
cities " by their own names "—or, by the names of favo- 
rites and friends. Bushwick had no very conspicuous 
men ; so, when it became the site of a future town, no 
local denizen had sufficient sympathy with the matter 
to wish to couple his name with what seemed so absurd 
a project. Thus, in old Williamsburgh no streets pre- 
serve the memory of the Titus, the Miller, the Meserole, 
the Devoe, the Berry families; nor, even that of its 
founders, Morrell or Woodhull. 


Mr. Danham sought, indeed, to apply his name to 
the present Grand street; or, at least, to sixty feet wide 
of the southern portion of it. But the widened street, 
as a centre line of departure in the designation of all 
the streets, took the more significant name of Grand 
street. And Wboclhull street, in designating the streets 
by numbers, was succeeded by " North Second" street. 
All the regular streets of the village were designated 
by numbers, except Grand street and the lane known as 
Water street; a portion of the old road along the East 
River shore; and a street laid out on the Commission- 
ers' map as " River street," whose site was over the 
waters of the East River and has been closed. 

In the designation of the streets First street ran 
along the East River, Second street was parallel or 
nearly parallel to it, and so the streets were numbered 
as we went east from the East River up to Twelfth 
street. And north from Grand street the first street 
having the same general directions was North First 
street. The old Jamaica turnpike, from tlie old Ferry 
out, was North Second, and so on to North Thirteenth 
street, at or along Bushwick creek. Then, south of 
Grand street and running in the same general direc- 
tion, though not exactly parallel. South First street to 
South Eleventh street, at the old Brooklyn line. In 
this use of numerals there was a certain degree of con- 
venience ; but strangers are often confused by con- 
founding First street with North First, or South First, 

But it is in the present Fifteenth and Sixteenth 
wards, that we find the streets designated by historical 
names. Lorimer commemorates the middle name of 
John and James Lorimer Graham, two famous land- 
jobbers there in '36. Ewen street was named after 
Daniel Ewen, city surveyor, residing in New York, 
who surveyed both the old and new village. Graham 
avenue still flatters the above named Grahams. Smith 
street commemorated Morgan L. Smith, and Hushwick 
avemte was the boundary between Williamsburgh 
and Bushwick. N. Second street was extended on the map 
of the new village to Bushwick. Poicers street, in the 
present Fifteenth ward, was named after William P. 
Powers, a clerk in the office of John L. Graham, who 
was made nominal proprietor of 939 lots for the con- 
venience of their sale and conveyance to purchasers; 
also of several other parcels of land. He appears on 
the record as the greatest land-jobber of the period. 
While, however, profits belonged to others, the respon- 
sibilities and losses were sometimes fathered on him. 
But he has always borne the character of an upright, 
honest and cultured gentleman. Ainslie street was 
named after James Ainslie, Esq., who for many years 
administered local justice in Williamsburgh. Devoe 
street represented the Devoes, who owned a block or 
two of land adjoining North Second street on the 
South side, and whose home was in Bushwick — and 
not Frederick Devoe, whose farm was on the East 

River shore. Going north of North Second street, or 
the old Jamaica Turnpike, the first street parallel to it 
is Conselyea street, whose eastern portion runs through 
the farm late of Andrew J. Conselyea, and about an 
acre of land of William J. Conselyea his brother; hence 
the name ; Skillman street, now Skillman avenue to 
distinguish it from Skillman street in old Brooklyn, 
derived its name from John Skillman, Senior, who 
lived and died on the same farm, at or near the pres- 
ent residence of Charles M. Church, son-in-law to 
John Skillman. Jackson street was probably named 
from Daniel Jackson, who, in connection with Gra- 
ham and Reuben Withers, had some landed interests 
in Williamsburgh. Withers street was named after 
Reuben Withers, late proprietor of the Houston street 
Ferry. Frost street was named from Edmund Frost, 
who was associated with Handy, Sinclair and Butler in 
a tract of land in the Fourteenth Ward. Richardson 
street was named for Lemuel Richardson, whose worthy 
name is elsewhere mentioned as one of the pioneers in 
building up Williamsburgh. Sanford street (chang- 
ed to Bayard) was in honor of Edward Sanford, a 
distinguished lawyer associated with John L. Graham 
in many real-estate transactions. His name had been 
applied to a street in the Seventh Ward, Brooklyn : 
hence the change. The substituted name was pro- 
bably taken from the name of a street in the city of 
New York. 

Going south from Grand street Remsen street was 
named after Abraham A. Remsen, who owned land at 
its junction with Union Avenue. There is another 
Remsen street near the City Hall, old Brooklyn, and 
the name of the E. D. street was changed to Maujer 
street in respect to Daniel Maujer, Esq., who, about 
the time, represented the Fifteenth Ward as Alder- 

Nicholas Wyckoff, the late worthy President of the 
F^rst National Rank, has his name perpetuated, in 
Wyckoff street. Stagy street, with its homely name, has 
doubtless out-lived its patron, who is probably known 
to but few, if any, of the existing citizens. Scholes street 
represents the family of James Scholes, dec, late of 
what is now the 19th Ward. Meserole avenue was 
named from the Abraham Meserole through whose farm 
it ran; and not from Abraham Meserole, husband of 
Maria Miller of the present Thirteenth Ward. Johnson 
street, or avenue, commemorates the memory of the late 
General Jeremiah Johnson. Boerum street was named 
from old Jacob Boerum, who had a farm of 58 acres 
within the limits of the present Sixteenth Ward, Brook- 
lyn. This farm was the subject of the great Cleveland 
law suit. 

McKihhen street was named after John S. McKibben, 
who caused a map of a part of the Jacob Boerum 
farm, as the land of McKibben and Nichols, to be made 
and filed. Siegel street, which (on changing the name 
of duplicate streets in Williamsburgh by the Common 



Council of Brooklyn) superseded Marshall streot, was in 
honor of General Siegel of the late war. 

Moore street was named for the late Thomas C. 
Moore, a manufacturer of wire sieves and netting, 
who owned lands in that neighborhood. Varette street 
was named from Lewis F. Varette, a land speculator, 
who operated on the sale of village lots there and else- 

Cooke street was jjrobably named from an old resi- 
dent near the Cross-Roads. Debevoise street (covering 
a part of the old Brooklyn and Newtown turnpike, by 
the Cross-Roads) was named from Charles Debevoise, 
who lived on Flushing avenue, near the western 
terminus of this street. 

The custom of perpetuating the names of the oldest 
inhabitants by those of streets is more marked in the 
old City of Brooklyn than in Williamsburgh. In the 
latter place many whose names are thus perpetuated 
were really residents of the City of New York, and 
only interested in Williamsburgh, as speculators. 

Trustees of the Village of Williamsburgh. — 
1827. Noah Waterbury, Pres ; Abraham Meserole, 
Sec; Peter C. Cornell ;'Thos. T. Morrell (son of Thos. 
and bro. of John M.) ; John Miller (had a small farm 
of about 1 1 acres, below South 2d and South 4th, from 
the East River to near 10th street, and a large family) ; 
Lewis Sanford, Treas.; J. Brush, ColVr; Daniel S. 
Griswold, Vill. Counsel; David Dunham, Clerk. 

1828. James M. Halsey, Pres.; John Henry (rojie- 
maker, and owner of lands between 2d and 4th streets) ; 
John Luther; James Ainslie (for many years Justice of 
Peace); Samuel D. Mills (milkman); J. Brush, Collector; 
"W. C. Townsend, Clerk ; Abraham Meserole, Treas. 

1829. Same board — except John Moi-rell (with his 
brother, Thomas T., real-estate dealer; also grocery busi- 
ness, conspicuous in early village affairs; was father of 
Francis V. and Thos. I., who carried on, for many 
years, the builders' hardware business, being prede- 
cessors of existing firm of C. H. Tiebout & Sons), vice 
Ainslie, and John Devoe (son of Frederick D., whose 
farm was between South 4th and South 6th streets. 
East River and 7th street), vice Sam. E. Mills; John 
Devoe; P. C. Cornell, Clerk; Riley Clark, Treas. 

1830. Edmund Frost, Pres. (lumber dealer, and inter- 
ested in lots in N. \V. part of village, in company with 
Butler O'Handy & Sinclair); Lemuel Richardson (gro- 
cer; afterwards manufacturer of locks and builders' 
hardware, corner Houston and Norfolk streets, New 
York, of which the business of H. C. Richardson, 
deed., 59 Grand st., was a branch. Was a careful bus- 
iness man, of excellent judgment, and sterling qualities; 
was about the only citizen who survived the land-job- 
bing speculators of the village, without becoming bank- 
rupt, which gave him a high position in the com- 
munity); John Eddy; Jacob Berry (owner of Berry 
farm, father of Abraham J. B., the first Mayor 
of the subsequent city of W. — of Richard B., 

cashier of Tradesmen's Bk., N. Y., — of Evander B. and 
of a dau. who m. Geo. Bell, of N. Y.); James Ainslie; 
Peter Way, Clerk; John Luther, Treas.; P. P. 
Schenck, ColVr. 

1831. Edmund Frost, Pres.; Lemuel Richardson ; 
Sam. D. Mills; and James Ainslie; Geo. W. Pittman 
(cordage mf'r); Chas. H.Davis, Clerk; John Luther, 
Treas.; P. P. Schenck, Coll. 

1832. James M. Halsey, Pres.; John Luther; John 
Henry; John Morrell; Richard Churchward; Jacob 
Berry, Treas.; P. P. Schenck, Clerk; W. J. Fish, Clerk, 
part of year. 

1833. Edmund Frost, Pres.; Lemuel Richardson ; Jas. 
Ainslie; John Morrell; Wm. Leaycraft (son of Rich. L. 
of N. Y. ; father of Wm. H. L., and Mrs. Demas Strong; 
was a J. of P., and had an office with Justice Leonard 
T. Coles, in old Trustees Hall, 1st St.) ; John L. Gra- 
ham, Vill. Counsel (figured largely in land-jobbing, 
became bankrupt 1837-40); Jacob Berry, Treas.; P.P. 
Schenck, Clerk. 

1834. Edmund Frost, Pres.; Lemuel Richardson ;Wm. 
Leaycraft; John Luther; John Eddy; P. P. Schenck, 
Clerk; J. L. Graham, Counsel; Lewis Sanford, Coll, 

1835. (Most of the 15th and 16th Wards, of jn-esent 
City of B., added to the village; number of Trustees 
increased to nine). 

1836. Wm. Leaycraft, Prey./ Daniel Wood (carpenter 
and wood-turner); Edwin Ferry (grocer); Jas. Guild 
(hotel-keeper, cor. No. 6th and 1st sts., and was a noted 
miniature painter); Robert B. Dikeman (rope-maker, 
and brother of late Hon. John Dikeman); James Ains- 
lie; Henry Cooke; T. B. Clarke (segarmfr.); Rich. 
Leaycraft, Treas.; Alanson Ackerly, Coll. 

1837. Edmund Frost, Pmv.; John Morrell; John Skill- 
man (owner of a large farm in present 15th Ward; was 
father-in-law of Chas. M. Church, Esq., who resides at 
old Skillmau homestead, cor. Lorimer and No. 2d sts.; 
also had sons John and Joseph S., still living); Abm. 
Meserole; John Snyder (undertaker in 15th Ward); 
Lemuel Richardson; Henry Cooke; Hiram Ross; Wm. 
Leaycraft; P. P. Schenck; Joseph Conselyea, Treas.; 
Alanson Ackerly, Coll.; Ed. Sanford, Counsel. 

1838. Edmund Frost, Pz-fs;;.,- John Skillman; John C. 
Minturn (distiller); Henry Cooke; John Wright (father 
of Mrs. Grahams Polly; a coppersmith in Cherry St., 
N. Y.); John Snyder; David Garrett (ropemaker and 
prominent in fire department); Wm. Wheaton (wheel- 
wright); P. P. Schenck, Clerk; C. L. Cooke; Judge Jos. 
Conselyea, Treas.; Alanson Akerly, Coll. (restaurant, 
foot of Grand St., until very lately); Edward Sanford, 
CoM«se^lost with the S. S. Arctic). 

1839. John C. Minturn,* Pres.; John Skillman;* C. 
L. Cooke ;f David Garrett; Henry Meiggs (of So. Ameri- 
can R. R. fame);J John Cook (an Englishman, lawyer); 
Thos. J. Fen wick* (bookbinder, jjartner with one 
Fiori); Jas. D. SjjarkmanJ (cork mfr., in Co. with Jas. 
L. Truslow; made a fortune; was at one time a 



supervisor; became Pres. of Mfrs. Nat. Bank, which 
he caused to be rem. to the building of Brown 
Bros. & Co., Wall St., N. Y. ; but complications 
in some new bus. ended in his bankruptcy, impair- 
ing, for a time, the standing of the Bank, which, by 
returning to W., with capital made good by stockholders) 
has since been prosperous. Mr. S. afterward became 
Pres. of Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., and d. a few yrs. 
since at Bordentown, N. J., at the old Joseph Bona- 
parte mansion). Eusebius Hopkins;* Wm. Frisby; J. J. 
Bennett;* J Jacob Backus; J Alanson Ackerly;]; Samuel 
CoxJ (flour and feed, cor. 4th and So. 1st sts. ; a careful 
bus. man); William GolderJ (builder); Henry Payson, 
Glerh; John Titus, Treas.; Hiram Ross, Coll. 

1840. — Henry Meiggs, President ; William Lake, 
(dock builder and contractor) ; Wm. Golder;* D. W. 
Van Cott* (milkman) ; Hiram Ross ; And. J. Consel- 
yea* (owned a forty-five acre farm m present Fifteenth 
Ward, partitioned 1853 among his heirs); Edward 
Neville* (kept K. Co. Hotel, corner of First and South 
Seventh streets — now occupied by W. City Fire Insur- 
ance Co.) ; John Titus* (merchant tailor. First, near 
Grand street); L. D. Cuddy ;|| John Skillman ; John 
Cook ;1| Eusebius Hopkins ; Col. Wm. Conselyea, Jr., 
Treasurer; Henry Payson, Clerk; Alex. S. Tiittle, 
Collector (livery stable). 544 names on poll list this 

1841. — John C. Minturn, President; A. B. Van- 
Cott (jeweler); Jasper F. Cropsey (owned property in 
Grand, between Third and Fourth streets), refused to 
serve ; James Fiori (of Fenwick & F., bookbinders) ; 
L. D. Cuddy ; Wm. Richardson (son of Simon R., 
partner of Wm. Wall, cordage manufacturer) ; Peter 
V. Remsen (son of Abraham A., lawyer for many 
years in Williamsburg, noted for the elegance of his 
chirography and the skill and exactness of the law 
papers which he prepared); George Doyle (builder); 
Richard Berry ; Henry Meiggs ; Edmund Frost ; 
Noah Waterbury ; Henry Payson, Clerk; W. Conselyea, 
Jr., Treasurer ; W. D. Lowerre, Collector. 

1842. — John C. Minturn, President ; L. D. Cuddy; 
Lemuel Richardson ; P. V. Remsen ; James Noble 
(coal) ; Robert Seeley (restaurant, South side of Grand 
street, near Ferry); Daniel D. Winant (billiard-table 
manufacturer. New York, School Trustee in Williams- 
burg for two or tiiree years ; after the consolidation a 
member for some years of Brooklyn Board of Educa- 
tion) ; Marvin W. Fox (from Bozrah, Connecticut, 
teacher); Nathaniel Willett (enterprising builder — 
erected present Calvary P. E. Church and City 
Armory, and mason work of Christ's Church, on Bed- 
ford avenue; at one time owned Union Hall, corner of 
Clymer street and Division avenue); James N. Engel, 

Five trustees (•) res. this year and their places were filled by special 
election ;$ one (+) refused to serve. 

Of above Board those marked * resigned before term expired ; 
D elected at special election. 

Treasurer (distiller, foot South Second street, mainly 
of burning fluid and camphene) ; W. D. Lowerre, Col- 
lector. No Counsel elected 1841 or '42 : A. D. Soper 
acted. 670 names on poll list. 

1843. — John C. Minturn, Prc.9«WcH?; Lemuel Richard- 
son ; Peter V. Remsen ; M. W. Fox ; D. D. Winant ; 
Wm. Lake ; David Garrett ; Eusebius Hopkins ; W. D. 
Lowerre ; Henry Payson, Clerk ; Richard Berry, 
Treas.; Jeremiah Meserole, Collector (saloon N. E. 
cor. Gd & 1st sts). 

1844. — Noah Waterbury, Pres.; Robert Sealy ; 
Benj. N. Disbrow (wholesale liquor, N. Y.); John 
A. Burdett (had ppy. interests in Gd. St., cor. 10th — 
still lives at Newtown, L. I., a garden farmer); 
Timo. Coflin (a native of Block Island; as a shipmas- 
ter followed the seas for many years; at length, settled 
on shore and run a freight-line of sailing vessels to 
Philadelphia and Baltimore ; some financial reverses 
came to him towards the close of his life. He became 
pres. of the Board in 1845 ; coll. of taxes in 1852 under 
the new city government; was a man of amiable temper, 
polished manners, and a kindly benevolent spirit, and an 
honorable,jipright and honest man) ; Isaac Sherwood (a 
leather merchant of New York); A. P. Cummings (one 
of the proprietors of the N. Y. Observer, which, by bis 
economy of expenditures, he made a financial success. 
He res. at cor. of So. 9th and 4th streets, where he had 
24 lots of land, which passed to the hands of a Dr. 
Wade. The house has given place to stores, fronting 
on 4th St., and the other lots are now occup. by the res. 
and garden of Jost Moller, Esq., the sugar refiner, and 
that of Hon. Sigismond Kaufman) ; B. S. K. Richardson, 
Treas.; Grahams PoUey (an extensive distiller, cor. of 
No. 4th and 1st sts, began life as a carman; rose to in- 
dependence; took a great interest in popular educa- 
tion and in charity to the poor); Alfred Curtis (a 
book-keeper; eldest son of Lemuel R., a stage proprie- 
tor ; was at one time in bus. with his father. He ran 
a line of stages in New York up to about the time of 
his death, which was sold to give place to street rail- 
roads for enough to give his family a competence. He 
served as village treasurer to acceptance. His 
wid., a sister of Andrew B. Hodges, still lives. A dau. 
m. Gen. Jeremiah V. Meserole, and another is now the 
wid. of the late Dr. John A. Brady) ; W. S. Wiggins, 
Coll. (Shoemaker, Ewen st.) ; Paul J. Fish, ConH (lawyer 
in W. several years; came here in 1836 or 7; devoted his 
chief attention to real estate; was for a time Master in 
Chancery ; shifted his residence from W. to Water- 
town, N. Y. ; came back; then lived in Plainfield, N. 
J.; finally died poor). 

The Village Charter was this year amended and 
adopted, in which three trustees and one collector were 
chosen for each of the Districts. 

1845. — Timothy Coffin, Pres.; Thos. J. Van Zant 
(acquired a good estate in umbrella bus. as partner 
of Alex. McDonald, in N. Y. ; at this time was in 



coal bus. in W., at foot of So. 5th st. ; a prominent 
member of the First Baptist Church; lacked the edu- 
cation and culture fitting one for public life) ; Jonathan 
Odell (merchant in New York ; had quite a plot 
of land N. W. cor. of So. 8th and 2d sts., which he 
afterwards sold to Thomas Brewster and moved 
away) ; James Dobbins (rope-maker, employed some 
years by Schermerhorn, Bancker & Co.) ; John Hanford 
(hatter in Grand St., betw. 4th and 5th streets, was an 
excellent politician ; went to the legislature for several 
years ; and, though he failed in business, his compen- 
sation of $.S00 a session, as it was then, enabled him to 
live without employment for the balance of the year, 
with his wardrobe as if just taken out of a band-box); 
Grahams Policy ; David Lindsay (carpenter in the 
Third district, elected as a Democrat; with limited 
opportunities he was a man of practical good sense, 
and generally respected as honorable in his devotion 
to public interests ; became a Republican during 
the war; was father of David and George Lindsay, 
members of Assembly some two or three years); 
Isaiah Pittman (cordage mfr. ; after selling out to 
Schermerhorn, Bancker & Co. the walk from 2nd 
to E. of 4th, betw. No. .3d and No. 4th sts., went to 
Connecticut, where he died some years since) ; James 
M. Aymar (stationer and bookbinder, was elected J. of 
the P., and afterwards devoted his attention to the 
office during his term. He was a man of fair intelli- 
gence, but dogmatical in his opinions); B. S. K. Rich- 
ardson, Treas; C. Daniels, Coll.; Richard Walsh, Coll. 
(a respected citizen of the present 14th ward, coll. several 
years; by trade a shoemaker) ; Isaac Henderson, Coll. 
(afterwards interested in the N. F! Evening Post, from 
which he accumulated quite a fortune, and is the owner 
now of the building 206 Broadway, New York, in 
which the paper is published) ; G. E. Baker, Coll.; 
Henry Baker, Clerk.; P. J. Fish, Counsel. 

There were this yr. 856 names on poll list — but a 
large non-voting pop. was then in the village, as the 
State Census the next yr. gave vill. about 11,000 pop. 

1846. — David Lindsay, President; William Wall; 
Timothy Coffin; Thomas J. Van Zant; John Hanford; 
Eusebius Hopkins; James W.Stearns (milkman in North 
Fifth street); James M. Aymar; James Roper (a re- 
spectable builder) ; J. J. Snyder, Clerk ; B. S. K. 
Richardson, Treasurer ; Levi Darbee, Collector (pro- 
prietor of the WHliamshurgh Gazette, started by Adras- 
tus Fish, brother of Paul J. Fish, from 1835 to 1838, 
when it was transferred to Levi Darbee. It was con- 
tinued as a weekly journal till January, 1850, when it 
was changed to a daily, and so continued to the time of 
its suspension, on the consolidation of Williamsburgh 
and Brooklyn ; and it was superseded in the city pat- 
ronage by the Brooklyn Daily Times. Mr. Darbee 
was industrious, but lacked the breadth of enterprise 
and tact essential to maintain a new enterprise) ; R. 
Walsh, Collector; I. Henderson, Collector; Homer H. 

Stewart, Esq., Corporation Counsel (a cousin of ex- 
Governor John W. Stewart, of Middlebury, Vermont, 
a graduate of Middlebury College, and a lawyer of 
good practice and ability. In some special matters his 
services were of special utility to the village); J. Quin, 
Street Inspector. 

1847.— Timothy Coffin, Pnsident ; William Wall; 
Thomas J. Van Sant; William Lake ; James Gallau- 
dett (a shoemaker, afterwards a grocer in Grand 
street) ; Henry Aldworth (a coal-dealer at the foot 
of Grand street, noted for having written and pub- 
lished a book against tiie Bible, but was honest 
in his dealings) ; Stephen Waterman [member of the 
firm of Burr, Waterman &, Co., manufacturers of pat- 
ent iron strapped blocks for ships; the business was 
prosecuted with a fair success and after the death of 
Mr. Waterman by his surviving partners) ; John H. 
Gaus (a baker, at 135 Ewen street); Charles W. 
Houghton (mahogany dealer in N. Y. ; at one time 
Pres. of the late Farmers'' and Citizens' Bank) ; George 
E. Baker, Clerk (continued in the office for three years; 
went to Washington and was for several years Private 
Secretary to Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Sec. of State; after- 
wards edited and published the speeches of Mr. Seward 
— which had quite an extensive sale) ; Levi W. Ufford, 
Treas. (a respectable dry-goods merchant, in First 
street, and though, at one time, well off, after the 
burning of Central Hall, in Fifth street, which he 
owned and failed to have insured, he had adverse for- 
tune, and he died about a year since, in South Brook- 
lyn, quite poor; William H. Colyer, Coll. (printer and 
publisher; a relative, I believe, of the Harper Broth- 
ers); S. B. Terry, Coll.; D. Chichester, Street, Well and 
Pump Iiisp.; Ri( h. Walsh, Coll.; no Attij. or Counsel 

1848.— Noah Waterbury, Pres.; Wm. Wall; Stephen 
Waterman; Wm. II. Sweezey (from Newark, N. J., 
who returned there soon after his official term termi- 
nated; he was a substantial citizen); John S. Trott, Jr. 
(with his brother was a distiller; their business was 
afterwards removed to Cherry street, N. Y. ; but John 
S. Trott died some years since and his brother con- 
tinued the business); Abraham D. Soper (an able law- 
yer who failed in retainers in cases of importance, by 
his almost constant practice in the Justice Courts ; he 
subsequently represented the town in the Legislature. 
In whatever he undertook, his practice was adroit and 
generally successful. He removed to W. Virginia and 
purchased a large tract of land, part of which he sold 
to some oil speculators, at prices that gave him a com- 
petence for the rest of his days; he became a member 
of the Constitutional Convention, that organized the 
new State of W. Va. ; he was one or two years in the 
Legislature and then became a Circuit Judge, and rode 
his circuit, generally, on horseback, over the rough 
roads of the country, till he was over eighty years of 
age. There is no doubt but Judge Soper's influence 


and labor in the State of his adoption, was beneficial 
and conservative and at the same time progressive. He 
was the father-in-law of Nicholson P. O'Brien, who for 
many years was his law partner in W. ; also of Addison 
Diossy, a lawyer in N. Y. Two daughters accompanied 
him to W. Va., married and settled there; he had 
two sons, lawyers, one in practice here and one in 
W. Virginia) ; Henry McCaddin (an undertaker, whose 
busmess was the north side of Grand street, near 
First street); John H. Gans; Abel Smith (for sev- 
eral years Colonel of the 13th Reg. of the State 
Militia; he carried on a liquorice factory, on Devoe 
street near Lorimer. At the commencement of the 
war of the Rebellion, Col. Smith recruited a regi- 
ment in the N. part of the State, which he intended 
to accompany to the front. But, in taking the cars at 
Ballston, N. Y., he accidentally fell under the wheels 
and was killed); George Joy (stone cutter); W. H. 
Colyer, Richard Walsh, Stephen Ryder, Collectors; L. 
W. Uiford, Treas.; Geo. E. Baker, Clerk. 

1849. Timothy Coffin, President; Samuel M. 
Meeker (a lawyer, whose carefulness has realized a for- 
tune, became identified with the Williamslmrgh Sav- 
ings Bank; the Willianisburgh City Fire Insurance 
Company ; the First National Bank, and the Wil- 
lianisburgh Gas-Light Company, from the organiza- 
tions of each. In the current of a quiet life and quiet 
affairs, he has ever proved a safe counsellor, but has 
generally employed more positive lawyers, as counsel, 
to conduct his cases in the courts ; has nursed his pet 
institutions, in their infancy, and though avoiding any 
speculative risks, he has made them a marked success ; 
is now President of the Williamshurgh Savings Bank, 
whose deposits have increased since 1851, from noth- 
ing, lo $21,000,000); Wm. Bunting (a paper commis- 
sion merchant, in New York) ; Francis V. Morrell (son 
of John Morrell, had a hardware store at the corner of 
First and North First streets, afterwards moved to the 
corner of First and Grand streets) ; John S. Trott, Jr. ; 
Andrew B. Hodges {Secretary of the Williamsburgh 
Fire Insurartce Company, afterwards name changed to 
the Citizens ; now having its principal office at 158 
Broadway, N. Y.) ; Henry McCaddin ; C. W. Hough- 
ton; Anthony Walter (then proprietor of Union Hall, 
at the cor. of Meserole and Ewen Sts., now 16th ward; 
has since served a term as sheriff of Kings county, and 
one term as justice of peace); Oliver Leach (a butcher, 
at 105 South 4th St.); Henry E. Ripley, Coll. (a son 
of the Rev. Mr. Ripley, pastor of the Cong, church of 
Lebanon, Ct., came to W., and engaged in the lum- 
ber trade, foot of So. 4th st., with David Kilgour, as 
a partner ; his business was hardly successful ; but 
Mr. R. saved a high character for integrity, served as 
Collector, 1850 ; after the consolidation was a member 
of the Board of Assessors till age and infirmities 
admonished him to retire ; purchased a handsome farm 
at Huntington, L. L, on which he lives, in dignified 

and peaceful retirement); R. Walsh, Coll.; Stephen 
Ryder, Coll.; Henry Payson, Treas.; Geo. E. Baker, 

1850. — Edmund Driggs, Pres.; D. D. Winant; Sam- 
uel Groves (a native of Nova Scotia, followed the 
sea in boyhood ; early came to the U. S., and served 
in a privateer from one of our Eastern cities, dur- 
ing the war of 1812 ; then came to N. Y., and sailed 
as master in merchant vessels for many years, and 
to all parts of the world ; his wife, whose character- 
istics were as singular as those distinguishing sailors 
from landsmen, accompanied him, in many of these 
voyages. Her kindness of heart endeared to her her hus- 
band's crews, and created in her an attachment to the 
sailor's home on the sea; when Capt. G. came to W. 
with an accumulation of of over $30,000 he abandoned 
the sea, and sought to follow the life of a retired gentle- 
man. But his habits of command stuck to him; and, 
sometimes in public affairs, acted out his old quarter-deck 
disregard of the opinions of others, which interfered 
with his influence in public life; he was always supposed 
to be the original figure, of " The meek man with the 
iron cane"^ in the conceit of a facetious club that styled 
itself the Great Northwestern Zep>hyr Association, that 
used to hold carnivals at the Neville's Hotel cor. of 
1st and So. Tth st.) ; Horatio N. Fryatt (had a fertilizing 
chemical factory at the foot of Division avenue on the 
site of MoUer, Sierek & Co's Sugar Refinery; he was in 
partnership with one Campbell) ; Chauncey A.Lay, book- 
"keeper and supervisor for the Messrs. Kemp, Masons & 
Builders for many years; afterward Sup't, for Torence 
McGuiggin, Street Contractor; for several of the last 
years of his life he managed for his dau. in the Hoop 
skirt business in Grand street near Fifth; he accumula- 
ted, including the house he occupied, some $40,000, 
chi'efly by careful investments in stocks) ; Daniel Reilly 
(liquor saloon) ; Harris Comstock (a measurer of Lum- 
ber); Thomas Green (a tanner— colored sheep-skins 
and morocco); Henry Oltmans (Grocery at the cor. 
of McKibben st. and Graham avenue. In later years 
has been agent and surveyor for the Kings Go. Ins. 
Co.; is Trustee of the W. Savings Bank; is a German 
and always well esteemed); Henry E. Rijjley, Coll.; 
James Murphy, Coll. (for many years a member of the 
Board of Education in Brooklyn, and commands the 
highest confidence of the people) ; John W. Braisted, 
Coll. (a Jeweler in Wyckoff st.); Henry Payson, 
Treas.; John Broach, Vill. Clerk (then Book-keeper 
with George W. Smith, popularly known as " Broom 
corn Smith,'''' see biography following). 

1851.— D. D. Winant, Pres.; W. T. Leitch (a mer- 
chant in N. Y.) ; Daniel Barker (a spice grinder in N. 
Y.); Alexander Hamilton (builder) ; Daniel Riley; Har- 
ris Comstock; James Salters (carpenter and joiner); 
Fordyce Sylvester (eng. with Norman Francis in the 
manufacture of saleratus); Dan'l Lindsay; John Maerz 
(grocer, Meserole street) ; Benjamin N. Disbrow, Coll.; 


Henry Cornwell, Coll. (a carman in the employ of 
William Wall) ; James Murphy, Coll.; W. H. Colyer, 
Treas.; John Broach, Clerk. 

This was claimed to be a reform Board. But its ca- 
pacity as a whole was far below the Board it super- 
seded. It brought forward in public life two at least 
who under the first year of the city became defaulters 
to the city for a large amount of money. 

The City of Williamsburgh — 1852-1854— The 
first officers of the new city were Dr. Abraham J. Berry, 
Mayor; Wm. H. Butler, City Clerk ; Geo. Thompson, 
Attorney and Counsel; Jas. F. Kenny, Comptroller; 
Horace Thayer, Edmund Driggs, Thos. J. Van Sant, 
Daniel Barker (First W^ard); Richard White, Absa- 
lom Roper, Jesse Holiley, Hai-ris Comstock (Second 
Ward) ; Daniel Maujer (President of the Board) ; W^m. 
Woodruff, And. C. Johnson, Edwin S. Ralphs (Third 
Ward); Aldermen. Dr. Berry, the new mayor, was 
well fitted for his responsible office by a gentlemanly 
bearing, courteous and affable manners, liberal educa- 
tion, political experience and personal acquaintance 
with previous village affairs. 

This year witnessed the incorporation of the Farmers 
and Citizens'' Hank, with a capital of $200,000 ; the 
Williamsburgh City Bank, with a capital of $320,000, 
and the Williamsburgh City Fire Insurance Co.; and 
the establishment of the Williamsburgh Medical So- 
ciety, and (April ) the Greenpoint Ferry. 

The third issue of the Williamsburgh Directory con- 
tained 7, .345 names, an increase of 1,742 over those of 
the previous year. It estimates the population of the 
city as over 40,000. 

1853, January — The Board of Aldermen was as 
follows : Daniel Barker; Thomas J. Van Sant; Jared 
Sparks; Abel C. Willmarth (First Ward). Jesse Hob- 
ley; Joseph Smith; George W. Ratern; Harris Com- 
stock, President (Second Ward). William Woodruff; 
Edwin S. Ralphs; John Maerz; Andrew C. Johnson 
(Third Ward). 

The public-school census of persons between the 
ages of four and twenty-one years, shows 10,907 
whites and 214 colored, total, 11,121 ; the population 
of Williamsburgh being, at this time, between 40,000 
and 50,000. The aggregate number of children 
attending the public schools of the city, during any 
part of the previous year, was 9,372, of which 834 had 
attended the entire school year. Fifteen privatq 
schools were also reported, with an attendance of 
about 800. 

This year showed a rapid growth in institutions; the 
Fulton Insurance Co., with a capital of $150,000 ; the 
Mechanics (now the Manufacturers' National) Bank 
of Williamsburgh, with a capital of $250,000 ; the 
Williamsburgh Missionary Society ; the Young Men\ 
Association, connected with the Third Presbyterian 
church ; the Third (colored) Baptist ; the Grace 
(Protestant Episcopal); the First Mission (Methodist 

Episcopal); the German Evangelical Mission; the 
(Roman Catholic) St. Mary of the Immaculate Con- 
ception, and the St. PauVs (German) Lutheran churches. 

The New York Sunday School Union's annual report 
credits Williamsburgh with twenty-five Sabbath-Schools 
of every different denomination ; with four hundred 
and sixty-six teachers, average attendance 387 ; 4, COO 
scholars registered, with average attendance of 3,239 ; 
6,297 volumes in Sunday-School libraries. Infant-class 
scholars (included in above) 465. Bushwick had, at the 
same time, ten different Sunday-Schools, ninety-eight 
teachers, average attendance 84 ; 702 scholars, average 
attendance 472 ; 1,190 volumes in libraries ; 55 infant 
class scholars. 

During this year were organized the Childroi's Aid 
Society ; the Iloioard Benevolent Society ; the Young 
Men^s Literary Association ; and the Young Mot's 
Christian Association, of Williamsburgh ; the 
wick Avenue Baptist ; Third Unitarian ; Second 
Congregational Methodist ; Graham Avenue Protest- 
ant Methodist ; Ainslie street Presbyterian, and Ger- 
man Evangelical Lutheran churches. 

1854, January — Under a change of politics, the Hon. 
William Wall became Mayor, on the Whig ticket. 
Commencing life as a journeyman rope-maker, he had 
become the proprietor of the largest cordage-factory in 
the vicinity. Shrewd and successful in business matters, 
he lacked, perhaps, that comprehensive judgment of the 
complicated interests affecting the government of a city 
of 40,000, which would have ensured his official success. 
He soon came in conflict with the Board of Aldermen, 
and became famous for his frequent exercise of the 
veto-power. A compilation of these vetoes, made un- 
der his direction, by John Broach, Esq., then City 
Clerk, was afterwards printed in a pamphlet of over 
100 octavo pages. Failing, however, to mould the 
Board of Aldermen to his views by vetoing their do- 
ings, he conceived the idea of annihilating a power 
which he had cause to esteem so dangerous ; and 
became, durmg the first year of his administration, an 
earnest advocate of the consolidation of the cities of 
Williamsburgh and Brooklyn. 

This was finally accomplished, by Act of Legislature, 
taking effect January 1, 1855. 

1854. The Board of Aldermen was as follows: Jared 
Sparks; Abel C. Wilmarth; John C. Kelly; Sam'l B. 
Terry (First Ward). Joseph Smith; Geo. W. Baker, 
President; Caleb Pink; John Linsky (Second Ward). 
Wm. Woodruff; John Maerz; Thomas Eames; Joseph 
Nesbit (Third Ward). 

City Clerk, W^m. G. Bishop; Comptroller, Joseph 
W. Beerdon; Commissioner of Streets and Bepairs, 
Leonard T. Coles; Treasurer, Miner H. Kcitli; Collector 
of Taxes, Fordyce Silvester; Attorney, John Dean. 

The Consolidation of Williamsburgh and 
Brooklyn was a measure which was twenty years in ' 
advance of the time when it might advantageously have 


taken place; and, for a time, it greatly injured the local 
trade and social prestiffe of this portion of the present 
City of Brooklyn. It reduced Williamsburgh to the 
position of an insignificant suburb of a comparatively 
distant city, which was in no way identified with, or 
informed of the needs, economies, or real interests of 
its new adjunct. It was said that Williamsburgh, at 
the time, was bankrupt ; but the more than thirty 
miles of streets, opened, curbed, flagged and paved, 
at a cost of from one to two millions of dollars, 
was a contribution to the new City of Brooklyn which 
more than balanced the debts added to the common 

The Wallabout Canal. — One of the grandest pro- 
jects for Brooklyn during the days of the "City of 
Williamsburgh" was first suggested by the late Thomas 
W. Field, Esq., viz.: the extension of what is known 
as the Wallabout Canal through a street, first called 
River street, 150 feet wide, laid out for the purpose, to 
the junction of Moore street and the present Broadway; 
and through Moore street to Newtown Creek. 

The bridges were proposed to be raised so as to give 
some eight feet in the clear between them and the 
surface water of the canal. Lighter-barges would 
have been towed through without disturbing the 
bridges. But, if ships with cargoes in bulk were to 
pass through the canal, the bridges could be turned on 
the turn-tables. Basins at favorable places could have 
been constructed by private enterprise where vessels 

could lay without encroaching on the use of the 

This grand project could have been chiefly con- 
structed by the owners of the land that would have 
become water-front along the borders on each side. It 
would have afforded, when complete, four miles of 
such water-front that, ere this, would have been 
crowded with furnaces and factories, requiring facili- 
ties for heavy freighting to their doors. 

Skill and science would have been required to keep 
this canal clear. But, it would have relieved the section 
through which it passed, of a large surplus of surface- 
water that concentrates there. A 50-foot street on each 
side of the canal would have given room to sewers, 
with outlets in the open bay, as at present. The waters 
of the canal might have been locked at the two termmi 
and lighter-barges have been let in only at high tides 
and the waters have been kept at a uniform height and 
80 not exposed the debris at the bottom, only when, in 
cold weather, it was undertaken to wash out and clean 
the channel. This canal was proposed to be excavated 
fifty feet wide, with wall of stone about a foot above 
the surface of the water at high tide, and a shelf was 
to be made about 5 feet wide on each side to serve for a 
tow-path either for horse or steam power. The bridges 
at the street crossings were to be about 100 feet in length, 
weighted at one end, so as to balance on a turn-table on 
the street outside the tow-path, so as to make the span 
60 feet over the channel. 

John Broach was born in Millstone, Somerset County, 
New Jersey, April 23d, 1812, of American parents, descended 
directly from Eevolutionary stock; his great-grandparents 
having taken an active part in the struggle for American 
independence, and sacrificed all their worldly posessions in 
the cause, except a considerable amount of Continental paper 
money, which was handed down, and remained in possession 
of the family, but did not enrich them, at the time of his 

He received such educational advantages as the viUage 
school of his native town afforded, until about fourteen 
years of age; when, having lost his parents, he was obliged 
to do something for his own support, and procured employ- 
ment as a boy of all work in a country store for a few 
months, after which he received some additional education; 
paying for his own tuition by assisting the teacher in the 
instruction of the smaller scholars. 

In the spring of 1827, being then about fifteen years of age, 
he left his native village and came to the city of New York, 
an orphan and alone, to seek his livelihood. 

He soon succeeded in finding a distant relative who kept a 
grocery store in the outskirts of the city, on the old Bloom- 
ingdale road, near what was then called Love Lane, and is 
now Twenty-first street; a section of the city which was 
called the "Reef" on account of the peculiar roughness of 
the locality. With this relative he engaged on trial, at any 
wages he might prove himself to be worth, as a clerk in his 
store. His friend and employer was an estimable man, but 
probably few portions of the city could be found less favor- 

able to the moral development of a youth of fifteen years of 
age, just from the country. 

From this time until about twenty-five years of age, he 
engaj,ed in various mercantile and laboring employments,and 
experienced the vicissitudes which a youth, left entirely to 
his own direction in a large city, would naturally be subjected 
to. In 1835, he formed the acquaintance of Miss Cordelia 
Knox, a most amiable young lady (his present wife), and 
they were married in the spring of 1836. He then began to 
think seriously of preparing himself to fill some more useful 
and respectable position in society, and attended night schools 
for the study of book-keeping, and other mercantile knowl . 
edge. By this means he soon fitted himself for, and obtained 
employment in more extensive mercantile business. 

In the spring of 1845, he removed to the village of Wil- 
liamsburgh, now the eastern district of the city of Brooklyn, 
and soon became identified with the customary associations 
of a growing village. He was active in tlie formation of the 
Mechanics' and Workingmen's Library Association, and was 
its president for some years. In 1848, he was appointed Dis- 
trict Clerk, and in 1849 was elected Trustee of the Public 
Schools in Williamsburgh, and was re-elected successively, 
to the same office, until 1854, when the consolidation with 
Brooklyn took place, and his business would not permit his 
attendance at the Board of Education in the Western District 
of Brooklyn. 

In the spring of 1850 he was elected clerk of the Village of 
WiUiamsburgh, being the first clerk of the village elected by 
the people. He was re-elected in 1851, and remained in office 



until the city charter of the village took effect in 1852. He 
was one of the Charter Trustees of the Williamsburgh Dis- 
pensary, in 1851, and has remained a trustee and treasurer of 
that institution up to the present time. He was associated 
with the founders of the Industrial School Association of 
this district, in 1854, was one of the first trustees and is still 
a trustee, and has been twenty-eight years treasurer of that 

In 1853, the Williamsburgh City Fire Insurance Company 
was organized, and he was appointed Assistant Secretary of 
that company, and in June, 1854, was called from that posi- 
tion, %vithout any solicitation on liis part, to the one he has 
since that time and stiU occupies, as Cashier of the Williams- 
burgh Savings Bank. He was also private secretary to Hon. 
William Wall, while he was Mayor of Williamsljurgh in 
1854, and up to the time of the consolidation with Brooklyn. 

In 1859, he was appointed under a special act of the State 
Legislature, together with Hon. Edmund Driggs and George 
Field, Esi]., of his district, and the Mayor, ComptroUor, and 
City Treasurer of Brooklyn, on a commission to adjust and 
settle all claims against the late City of Williamsburgli. 

By this commission the outstanding claims against the City 
of Williamsburgh, which had long been a source of much 
annoyance and litigation, were satisfactorily adjusted and 
settled, and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank took the bonds 
of the City of Brooklyn for the necessary amount to pay off 
the claims allowed by the commission. 

He took a deep interest in the war for the Union, and his 
three sons, all tlie children he had living, were early under 
arms in the field. Two of them, one in the 14th Brooklyn and 
the other in the 8th New York regiments, were in the first 
battle of Bull Run. He also assisted in fitting out several 
other young men for the field before the Government ar- 
rangements were completed for ecjuipping the sohliers speed- 


In 1862, his eldest .son. John H. Broach, with his father's 
assistance, raised a company in Williamsburgh. and joining 
the 173d Regiment New York Volunteers, proceeded to New 
Orleans and participated in the siege of Port Hudson and the 
battles leading thereto, and also m the Red River campaign, 
during which time he was commissioned as Assistant Adju- 

All of his sons served during most of the war and were 
honorably discharged. One, however, his second son, James 
A. Broach, reached home only to die. within a few days after 
his discharge, of a fever contracted in tlie army at Savannah, 

Mr. Broach lias been a resident of Williamsburgh thirty- 
eight years. 

Sylvestek Tuttle.— The subject of this biographical 
sketch was born in Patchogue, L. I., September 5th, 1806. 
the son of Rev. Ezra Tuttle, who was an active and zealous 
minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, widely known 
and respected in his time. The son inherited his father's 
strong religious feeling, whicli became the controlling ele- 
ment in his character. Before he was twenty-one Mr. Tuttle 
entered upon a business career in New York City. Industri- 
ous, careful and shrewd, he rose rapidly, and in a few years 
became sole proprietor of a large hat and fur store in Chat- 

ham Square, which was one of the only two houses in the 
trade that was able to withstand the panic of 1837. He be- 
came interested in the coal trade in tlie Eastern District of 
Brooklyn in 1846, and soon afterwards sold out his business 
in New York, associating his son with him in 1855. He rap- 
idly extended his trade until it assumed large proportions in 
the city of Brooklyn. 

After many years of active business life, Mr. Tuttle made 
a tour of Europe in 1871. While abroad he contracted a 
malarial disease, a recurrence of which proved fatal May 25, 
1874, in his 68th year. Mr. Tuttle's energy, activity and in- 
tegrity enabled him to acquire a fortune, of which he made 
noble use. He was called to fill many responsible positions. 
In politics he was an active Republican. But he was best 
known as a sincere Christian man, whose daily walk and 
conversation proved him to be an earnest servant of God. In 
early life he became a member of the Forsyth Street M. E. 
Church, in New York, then an active member of the South 
Fifth M. E. Church. He was also a large contributor to- 
wards the erection of St. John's M. E. Church, at the corner 
of Bedford avenue and Wilson street, and, until his death, 
served as one of its Trustees. He was greatly interested in 
the North Third Street Mission, and devoted much of his 
time to personal religious work. A man of fine feelings, he 
responded heartily to the cry of distress, and gave freely in 
charity. A public-spirited citizen, he used his means for the 
good of the city and of his fellow men, and his memory is 
cherished in the hearts of all who knew him. 

Ezra B. Tuttle.— Ezra B. Tuttle, a son of the late Syl- 
vester Tuttle, a biogiaphical sketch of whom appears next 
preceding this, was born in the city of New York, May 31st, 
1834. He was educated in private schools in New York and 
in New Haven, Conn., and at Doctor Gold's once popular 
agricultural school, at Cream Hill, Litchfield County, 

At the age of eighteen he was placed in charge of one of 
his father's offices, and when he attained to his majority he 
became associated witli his father as a partner in his busi- 

In the summer of 1857, Mr. Tuttle was married to Miss 
Frances R. Day, of New Haven, Conn., daughter of Zelotes 
Day, Esq. They have two sous. The elder, Winthrop M. 
Tuttle, was educated at the Polytechnic Institute and is now 
assisting his father in his business. The second son, Frank 
Day Tuttle, graduated with honors from the Polytechnic In- 
stitute, and has recently entered Yale College as a student. 

Mr. Tuttle has long been prominently identified with the 
leading commercial, religious and charitable interests of 
Brooklyn, holding at the present time the positions of vice- 
president of the Brooklyn Cross-Town Railroad Company, 
trustee of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, director of the 
Kings County Fire Insurance Company ; president of the 
board of trustees of St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church, 
of Bedford avenue : vice-president of the Brooklyn Church 
Society ; trustee of Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, N. 
J. ; trustee of the Brooklyn Homeopathic Hospital : trustee 
of the Brooklyn City Mission and Tract Society ; trustee of 
the Brooklyn Bible Society, and a member of the Missionary 
Board of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 





Kings County, N. Y. 






Jieprintcd from "The Illustrated History of Kings County," edited by Dr. H. R. Stiles, and imblished ly 

W. W. Munsell & Co. 



007 190 703 fl 

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